SCANDINAVIA: NORWAY & SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Norway

Strømsgodset further their lead at the top, whilst Molde begin their slow, but sure, ascent out of the relegation zone

After losing for only the second time this season and seeing their lead at the top of the table narrow to only two points last week, Strømsgodset got back to winning ways this weekend with a 3-1 victory over Tromsø at home at Marienlyst Stadion. Thomas Kind Bendiksen put the visitors ahead after twenty-one minutes but a Lars Vilsvik penalty drew Strømsgodset level just ten minutes later. The scores stayed equal until Abdisalam Ibrahim put the hosts ahead for the first time in the game shortly before the hour mark, and Ghanaian teenager Bismark Adjei-Boateng wrapped up an important win with his fourth goal of the season six minutes before the end.

Rosenborg’s inability to beat Viking on Sunday evening, with the sides forced to share the points after a hard-fought clash ended goalless in Stavanger, means that Strømsgodset end the week four points ahead of arguably their biggest threat currently, as the top two begin to slowly but surely pull away from the rest of the field.

Third-place Aalesund, fourth-place Brann, and fifth-place Viking are all tied on twenty-four points after only Brann were able to win this weekend, mercilessly thrashing bottom-of-the-table Sandnes Ulf 6-1 on Saturday afternoon to continue their fantastic home form. Teenage sensation Bård Finne scored a hat trick in just twenty-four minutes to add to Martin Pusic’s fifth-minute opener, giving them a 4-0 lead going into the break, and Birkir Mar Sævarsson extended their lead to five when he scored six minutes after the restart. Sandnes Ulf pulled one back with little over quarter-of-an-hour left to play when Markus Jonsson put the ball into the back of his own net, but Amin Askar reestablished Tromsø’s five goal lead and made it 6-1 with just three minutes left to play.

Aalesund were only able to draw 2-2 with Start, meaning that they now sit ahead of Brann only on goal difference. Goals from Fredrik Ulvestad and Peter Orry Larsen gave them a 2-0 lead going into the half time break, but Start, who have not won a league game since their narrow 1-0 victory over Odd in mid-May, fought back and forced a sharing of the points with two goals in quick succession, starting shortly after the start of the second half with Ernest Asante’s second goal in as many games and ending with Matthías Vilhjálmsson’s fourth goal of the season twelve minutes later.

Despite the impressive comeback, Start end the weekend in the relegation zone after Molde won for only the third time this season, and the second time in their last three league games. After going 1-0 down shortly before the half-hour mark through French defender Jérémy Berthod, Martin Linnes equalised for the reigning champions on the stroke of half time, and two goals in the second half from Daniel Chima and Zlatko Tripić helped Molde to a vital victory, which sees them move up to fourteenth-place, equal on points with Start but considerably ahead on goal difference.

Meanwhile, Odd leapfrogged both Start and Lillestrøm thanks to their more-than-comfortable 4-0 win at home against seventh-place Haugesund, who have now lost three times in their last five league games. After a goalless first half, Håvard Storbæk put the hosts ahead just a minute into the second period, before Herolind Shala doubled their lead thirteen minutes later, shortly after Haugesund were reduced to ten men after Ugonna Anyora was shown a straight red card for a reckless high challenge on the aforementioned Shala. Frode Johnsen made it 3-0 with just ten minutes left to play, before George Agwuocha made it 4-0 moments before the final whistle blew to give Odd their biggest league win since their 4-0 win at home against Hønefoss last October (in which Agwuocha also scored the fourth goal in the dying moments of the match). Odd move up to twelfth place, equal on points with both eleventh-place Hønefoss and thirteenth-place Lillestrøm, but just one point ahead of both Molde and Start.

Hønefoss were forced to share the points for the third time in their last five league games when they drew 1-1 with Sogndal at Fosshaugane Campus on Saturday evening, whilst Lillestrøm were handed their third defeat in the same number of games when Vålerenga beat them 1-0 away from home, thanks to a fifty-sixth-minute goal from Costa Rican international Geancarlo González. The win, their fifth of the season, means that Vålerenga move up to ninth place with seventeen points, equal with tenth-place Sarpsborg 08 and two points behind eighth-place Tromsø.

Sweden

Helsingborg fail to capitalise on their rescheduled clash with AIK, whilst Djurgården’s escape from danger continues

This week saw Allsvenskan play catch-up, as eleven sides were involved in six games that had to be rescheduled after being postponed earlier in the season.

Helsingborg, who before this week were two games and just one point behind current league leaders IFK Göteborg, had the opportunity to go back to the top of the table with a win over AIK, who started the week in seventh place, but it wasn’t to be, as two late goals from Celso Borges and Kwame Karikari cancelled out Emil Krafth’s thirty-third-minute opener and condemned Helsingborg – who were reduced to ten men early in the second half when Peter Larsson was shown his second yellow card of the game – to only their second defeat this season. They still have a game in hand over IFK Göteborg against second-to-bottom-place Halmstad, but that is not scheduled to be played until the end of the month, allowing IFK Göteborg, who have also only lost twice so far this season, too much time for Helsingborg’s liking to pull away if results do not go Helsingborg’s way over the coming weeks.

As for AIK, they went on to draw 0-0 at home to eighth-place Mjällby on Monday evening, extending their unbeaten run in the league to six games and moving them above Kalmar and Åtvidaberg to fifth place. The latter were also in action this week, beating comfortably beating Brommapojkarna 4-1 at home at Kopparvallen to leapfrog Kalmar and go equal on points with AIK in sixth place.

Both sides are now just three points behind both fourth-place Malmö FF and third-place Elfsborg, after the former were beaten 3-1 by Häcken (moving them up to ninth place, equal on points with Mjällby), and the latter thrashed bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC 5-1 to move back above Malmö FF to third place after they had stolen the final Europa League spot off them last week with a 2-1 victory when the two sides met at Swedbank Stadion. Elfsborg are now just one point behind Helsingborg, but, like every other side, bar Halmstad, have played one more game.

In the bottom half of the table, Djurgården extended their unbeaten run in the league to seven games when they beat Öster 2-0 at home, thanks to goals from Amadou Jawo and Emil Bergström. The victory moves Djurgården above Gefle to eleventh place with sixteen points, three points ahead of the aforementioned side and two behind tenth-place Norrköping. As for Öster, they remain in thirteenth place and without a win in their last three games (and only three all season), sitting two points ahead of fourteenth-place Brommapojkarna, and a further one point ahead of Halmstad and Syrianska FC in the relegation zone, as well as one point behind Gefle.

Ben Cullimore

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

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