SCANDINAVIA: Denmark, Norway and Sweden weekly review

Denmark

København secure title number ten away to their cross-capital rivals

Despite being held to a goalless draw by fellow København-based side Brøndby in what is known as the “New Firm” derby, FC København secured Superliga title number ten when the two sides met at Brøndby Stadium on Sunday afternoon. After narrowly missing out on winning their fourth title in a row last year when Nordsjælland finished just two points ahead of them and won their first league title in their history, København’s title sees the Superliga revert to its old ways with Løverne dominating Danish football at the top of the table once again.

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With the title wrapped up, it’s now time to find out who will finish second and claim the other Champions League qualification spot for themselves, although it looks almost certain to be Nordsjælland, who sit six points ahead of an erratic Randers side who have lost three of their last five games. They were victorious this weekend, however, beating ninth-place AGF 1-0 to pick up their first league victory since the end of March, whilst Nordsjælland were held to their third draw in a row, as Jores Okore had to save them from an embarrassing 2-1 defeat away to Silkeborg when he forced a sharing of the points with just five minutes left to play.

Sitting three points behind Randers in fourth place (the last Europa League qualifying spot) are 2008 Superliga champions Aalborg who this weekend lost for the first time in a month after going four games unbeaten. A single first half goal from Lasse Vibe was enough to earn SønderjyskE all three points when the two sides clashed in Haderslev, and the win means that SønderjyskE’s last-minute great escape continues as they have now gone five games unbeaten and sit six points clear of the relegation zone.

SønderjyskE are also now equal on points with seventh-place Odense who suffered their fourth defeat in a row on Monday when they lost 1-0 to Midtjylland. Petter Andersson scored the game’s only goal thirteen minutes into the second half to give them their fourth win in the last five games, whilst also moving them above Odense to sixth place.

Sitting at the top of the two-man relegation zone are Horsens who lost 1-0 to fifth-place Esbjerg on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a goal after only three minutes from Martin Braithwaite, the clubs highest scorer this season, whilst Silkeborg remain two points behind them in last place after their draw with Nordsjælland.

Brøndby’s draw with København means that they sit one point clear of the dreaded drop after turning their fortunes around recently with a three-game unbeaten streak, and AGF lie three points ahead of them in eighth after their loss to Randers, their seventh consecutive game without a win. If Brøndby and Horsens pick up vital wins in their next two games before they meet each other in Horsens on the last day of the season, AGF could find themselves in the relegation zone come the start of Monday May 20th.

Norway

A fourth consecutive win sees Strømsgodset go top, whilst Molde are still searching for their first win of the season

After winning their first four matches of the season, Aalesund have now failed to win their last three, and this weekend they dropped down from the top spot to second after they drew 2-2 with Rosenborg on Saturday. Despite going 2-0 up after fifty-two minutes thanks to goals from Leke James and Fredrik Ulvestad, Aalesund boss Jan Jönsson’s former side fought back and scored twice in seven minutes mid-way through the second half to pick up their first point in almost a month. Rosenborg, after dominating their opening games, have now failed to win in their last four games, seeing them drop from the top of the table after Round 3 to fifth in the table after Round 7.

Aalesund’s draw allowed Strømsgodset, one of last season’s most impressive sides and strong favourites for this year’s title alongside Rosenborg, move to the top of the table as they secured their fourth consecutive win at home to third-place Viking. The hosts were dealt a shock 2-1 defeat against second-tier Asker in the second round of the Norwegian Cup during the week, but it seemingly had little impact on their fantastic league form as they went into the half-time break 2-0 up against a strong Viking side, with Lars Vilsvik and Mohammed Keita scoring a goal each at either end of the half. Patrik Ingelsten scored for Viking from the penalty spot three minutes after the break in the hope of initiating a second half comeback but Adama Diomandé restored Strømsgodset’s two-goal lead and scored the final goal of the game twenty-four minutes later with his first goal in the league since July last year.

Brann had the opportunity to overtake Viking and take third place for themselves thanks to the latter side’s defeat, but they will have to stay in fourth place for another week after their dreadful away record continued as they were beaten 3-1 by thirteenth-place Sogndal. Brann are yet to win a single away game this season, despite winning all four of their games they’ve played at home, and have only scored one goal away from Brann Stadion. That goal came from Amin Askar in the ninetieth minute, with Brann already 3-0 down (and a man down after youngster Jonas Grønner was shown a second yellow card since minutes into the second half) thanks to a first-half opener from Azar Karadas and a second-half brace from Malick Mane.

The win was Sogndal’s second of the season, and Odd, who sit just behind them in fourteenth place with seven points, also picked up their second win of 2013 this weekend when they beat sixth-place Lillestrøm 2-1 at home at Skagerak Arena. Petter Vaagan Moen opened the scoring for the visitors after only thirteen minutes before veteran Frode Johnsen equalised with nine minutes of the half left to play. Herolind Shala scored what would eventually be the winner after seventy-four minutes and moved his side out of the relegation zone, dropping Hønefoss down into it.

Hønefoss have only won one game this season – a surprise 2-0 victory at home to Strømsgodset – and have failed to win their last five in a row, drawing their last three, including this weekend’s 1-1 draw with Tromsø. Despite only losing once this season, Tromsø, who currently sit in seventh place, are having a tough time at the moment, only winning twice so far and failing to hold on to leads on several occasions. That was the case at AKA Arena on Sunday, as Hønefoss were able to reply to Morten Moldskred’s fifty-fourth minute opener with the all-important equaliser just eight minutes later from Mikkel Vendelbo.

The draw means that Tromsø now sit on equal on points with Lillestrøm, Sarpsborg 08 and Haugesund after the newly promoted side beat the latter 1-0. The winner didn’t come until five minutes before the end when Magnus Sylling Olsen scored his first goal for the club since signing in March after being released by Adeccoligaen side Bodø/Glimt at the end of last season. The win moves Sarpsborg 08 up to eighth-place after a fantastic start from last year’s Adeccoligaen runners-up in which they’ve lost only once under the guidance of new manager, and former England international, Brian Deane.

One point behind Lillestrøm, Tromsø, Sarpsborg 08 and Haugesund are Vålerenga who have bounced back from three consecutive defeats to win two on the trot. This weekend saw them beat Sandnes Ulf 2-1 away from home thanks to two early goals from Costa Rican attacker Diego Calvo (his first for the club since moving from his home country’s champions L.D. Alajuelense) and Simon Larsen.

The tough times continue for Molde as they are still searching for their first win of the season after having to come from behind to draw 1-1 with tenth-place Start. It didn’t take the reigning champions long to get back into the game, however, as Mattias Moström equalised just before the half-time break, only two minutes after Jorge Castro (another Costa Rican attacker) had opened the scoring with his fourth goal in three games. It seems that Castro is exactly the sort of player Molde need as, after scoring only twice in their opening seven games, they seem to be struggling to fill the hole left up front by Davy Claude Angan.

Sweden

Helsingborg climb to the top of the table, whilst unbeaten streaks continue for both Malmö FF and Elfsborg

This weekend saw Helsingborg climb to the top of the table after they picked up their fourth consecutive win. After thrashing Gefle 5-1 last weekend, the 2011 champions won in considerably less style this time around, beating fourteenth-place Syrianska FC 1-0. Alejandro Bedoya scored the all-important goal – his second in as many games – which moves his side one point ahead of Malmö FF after they drew their second game in a row when their clash against Norrköping finished 1-1. Imad Khalili opened the scoring for the latter after only eight minutes before youngster Simon Thern equalised for Malmö FF with his first goal of the season.

Thankfully for Malmö FF, IFK Göteborg suffered their first defeat of the season away to AIK this weekend. It’s been a tough week for AIK as their Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Turina tragically died at the age of thirty-two last Thursday, and a remarkable and emotional tribute was paid to the late shot-stopper in the twenty-seventh minute of the game when the ball was kicked out of play and the players and the fans stood and applauded Turina, whose squad number was 27. A fitting tribute to a fine player, AIK went on to win the game 3-1, with goals from Kennedy Igboananike, Celso Borges and Martin Kayongo-Mutumba cancelling out Philip Haglund’s twenty-fourth minute opener from the penalty spot for IFK Göteborg.

After a slow start to the season that saw them draw their opening four matches, reigning champions Elfsborg have now won their last three matches in a row after they beat Mjällby 2-1 this weekend. The win moves them up to fourth place, one point behind IFK Göteborg and three ahead of Kalmar, who were only able to draw 1-1 against Gefle when the two sides met at Strömvallen on Monday evening.

At the other end of the table, Djurgården’s unbearable pain continued as they suffered their third defeat in a row, thanks, or not, to a 5-1 thrashing by Åtvidaberg on Saturday afternoon. Palestinian midfielder Imad Zatara opened the scoring after nineteen minutes and by the sixty-third minute the hosts were 5-0 ahead. Viktor Prodell doubled Åtvidaberg’s lead seventeen after Zatara before Tom Pettersson made it 3-0 shortly after half-time. Zatara then scored his second of the match shortly after the hour mark before Prodell’s securing of his double just two minutes later piled even more pressure on the helpless visitors. Amadou Jawo, the only person to score for the bottom-placed side so far this season, pulled one back for Djurgården with nine minutes left to play, but it would make no difference. A clash with Malmö FF awaits next Sunday, and it’s one that’s more than likely going to end in even more heartache for the side from Stockholm.

Although nowhere near as bad as Djurgården, last year’s Superettan runners-up Brommapojkarna have also had a difficult start to the season, only managing to win one of their opening seven games, and Monday evening’s 1-0 defeat away to Häcken was, like Djurgården, their third in a row. They sit second-to-bottom in the relegation zone, two points behind Syrianska FC, Gefle and Halmstad, after the latter, who were promoted via the play-offs after finishing third in Superettan, won their first game of the season against the winners of last year’s Superettan, Öster, beating them 1-0.

Ben Cullimore

Follow Ben on Twitter by clicking his name above or alternatively@thenorsenetwork

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