SCANDINAVIA: NORWAY & SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Norway

Rosenborg close in on leaders Strømsgodset, whilst Molde move three points clear of the relegation zone

Strømsgodset’s lead at the top of the Tippeligaen table was reduced to just one point this weekend after they lost for only the third time this season, and the second time in just three games, when they were defeated 2-1 away from home by Haugesund on Saturday afternoon. A comical, and unfortunate, own-goal from Monuir Hamoud opened the scoring for the hosts, who before today had only won once in their last four league games, before Michael Haukås doubled their lead midway through the second half. Nineteen-year-old substitute Martin Rønning scored his first Tippeligaen goal with an excellent long-range effort seven minutes before the end, but it would prove to be of little worth to Strømsgodset as Haugesund held on to claim all three points for themselves and move up to seventh place in the table.

Meanwhile, Rosenborg extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine games when they beat fourteenth-place Lillestrøm 1-0 in front of 15,000 spectators in Trondheim on Sunday. The only goal of the game was scored by John Chibuike nineteen minutes into the second half, and it was an incredibly lucky one, with the Nigerian’s tame effort bouncing awkwardly, yet slowly, past Lillestrøm goalkeeper Arnold Origi in one of the most bizarre goals of the season so far.

The three points gained by the second-place side means that not only are they just one point behind Strømsgodset at the midpoint of the season, but they are also now six points clear of third-place Aalesund, after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Sogndal on Friday evening. Leke James opened the scoring and put Aalesund ahead after twenty-nine minutes with a well-controlled half volley from the edge of the penalty area, but Sogndal replied eleven minutes later through Malick Mane when the young Senegalese striker scored from the penalty spot after Sidimane Sagna was clumsily brought down inside the box. Aalesund were ahead again shortly after the break when Abderrazak Hamdallah’s cross-cum-shot was palmed into the back of the net at the near post by Sogndal goalkeeper Erik Dahlin, but, despite going down to ten men with seventeen minutes left to play when Sagna was shown a second yellow card, Sogndal equalised once again and rescued a point for themselves when substitute Magnus Stamnestrø, on loan from Molde, scored with a thumping long-range effort with nine minutes left to play.

Aalesund remain equal on points with both fourth-place Brann and fifth-place Viking after both sides were also held to draws in their respective games. Brann picked up their first draw of the season – not to mention their first point away from home – when they drew 1-1 with Hønefoss (the thirteenth-place side’s third draw in as many league games), whilst a last-minute goal from Vålerenga goalkeeper Gudmund Kongshavn deep into injury time secured them a vital point in their game against Viking. Veton Berisha opened the scoring for Viking shortly before the half-hour mark, and the scoreline stayed that way until Torgeir Børven equalised for Vålerenga three minutes into the second half with a wonderful side-footed flick from a Joachim Thomassen corner. Viking were ahead again only seven minutes later, however, when Patrik Ingelsten headed the visitors in from close range, but Vålerenga equalised in the most incredible fashion deep into injury time when Kongshavn came forward for a last-minute corner and rose high above the Viking defence to head in the all-important equaliser with only seconds remaining.

The draw means that Vålerenga drop one place to tenth, but sees them avoid dropping a further place after Molde won their second league game in a row (and their first away game of the season) to move up to eleventh, just one point behind them. The reigning champions came from behind to beat eighth-place Tromsø 3-2 away from home on Sunday afternoon to move away from the relegation play-off spot in fourteenth place and go three points clear of Start in the relegation zone. Daniel Chima opened the scoring for Molde after only seven minutes, but two goals in four minutes from Magnus Andersen and Remi Johansen quarter-of-an-hour later put Tromsø ahead going into the half-time break. Daniel Chima started the Molde comeback shortly after the hour mark, however, and Mattias Moström scored what would prove to be the winner eight minutes later when he was able to pounce on Jo Inge Berget’s spilled shot and calmly tap the ball in on the line.

Molde move equal on points with Sarpsborg 08, but move ahead of them on goal difference, after the twelfth-place side were defeated for the third time in their last five games, and their second time in as many weeks, at home to Odd. Veteran Frode Johnsen scored the game’s only goal six minutes into the second half, and the victory sees Odd move up to ninth place in the table, just one point behind Tromsø and equal on points with Vålerenga, and extends their impressive and important recent unbeaten run to four games.

Meanwhile, at the foot of the table, bottom side Sandnes Ulf moved to within one point of nearest rivals Start when they beat them 3-1 at home on Sunday afternoon. The hosts went behind after only eleven minutes through Espen Hoff, but a headed equaliser from Kenneth Sola seventeen minutes later and two second-half goals from Tommy Høiland (which seemed to strike his hand rather than his head, as initially believed) and Sola, again, mean that Sandnes Ulf’s run of eight league games without a win is finally brought to an end ahead of two tough upcoming clashes against Strømsgodset and Aalesund.

Sweden

IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF go equal on points at the top of the table, whilst Syrianska FC’s fourth defeat in a row leaves them rock bottom

After starting the weekend in fourth place, Malmö FF ended it in second and equal on points with league leaders IFK Göteborg after they picked up their eighth win of the season at home to Gefle in the weekend’s highest scoring encounter. Magnus Eriksson headed the hosts ahead shortly after the half-hour mark, but Gefle, who, before today, had drawn their last six league games in a row, equalised just three minutes later through the head of Mikael Dahlberg. A fantastic series of twists and turns from Jiloan Hamad on the edge of the Gefle penalty area led to the young Swede firing his side back into the lead four minutes into the second half, and Miiko Albornoz secured the win eighteen minutes later with a twenty-five-yard strike that flew past the outstretched Mattias Hugosson in the Gefle goalmouth.

The win put Malmö FF at the top of the table for over twenty-four hours as they waited for the outcome of IFK Göteborg’s game away to Helsingborg, and the resulting 1-1 draw meant that IFK Göteborg returned to the top of the table, albeit now equal on points with Malmö FF and only ahead on goal difference by one goal. Robin Söder’s forty-second-minute goal gave IFK Göteborg the lead going into the half time break, but a second yellow card for Philip Haglund twelve minutes after the restart for a reckless challenge on David Accam saw the visitors reduced to ten men. Haglund’s dismissal led to Helsingborg scoring soon after through Brazilian striker Álvaro Santos, but his headed effort was judged to be offside. They equalised for real with just under twenty minutes left to play, however, when Robin Simović fired in from close range to keep Helsingborg just one point behind IFK Göteborg, still with a game in hand over the league leaders.

Fourth-place Elfsborg, fifth-place AIK and sixth-place Åtvidaberg are all equal on twenty-six points, two points behind Helsingborg, after the former were defeated and the latter two were victorious this weekend. Elfsborg were defeated by a single first-half Daniel Sjölund goal when they faced Åtvidaberg at home at Borås Arena on Saturday, whilst AIK won for the fourth time in their last five games and extended their unbeaten run to seven games when they beat Häcken 2-0 thanks to two goals in the last twenty minutes from Henok Goitom and Robert Persson, the latter’s goal coming two minutes into injury time and just ten minutes after he came on as a substitute for Kennedy Igboananike.

The defeat, Häcken’s first in almost a month after winning their last two games on the trot against Halmstad and Malmö FF, means that they lie in ninth place with twenty points, but are now one point behind eighth-place Mjällby after their 1-1 draw with twelfth-place Öster on Saturday afternoon. They almost went away with nothing, however, after Manz Karlsson put Öster ahead after fourteen minutes with a diving header at the far post, but Haris Radetinac saved them from defeat when he successfully converted a seventy-sixth-minute penalty.

Both Mjällby and Öster are now without a win in their last four league games, both losing twice in that period, and the draw means that Öster remain dangerously close to both the relegation play-off spot and the relegation zone. The point gained at Strandvallen means that they move up to twelfth place, equal on points with thirteenth-place Gefle, but Halmstad’s 2-1 win away to bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC means that they now sit just one point behind them in the relegation play-off spot. The win was Halmstad’s first since May and only their second of the season, but it looked as if the two sides would have to share the points after goals from Halmstad’s Andreas Landgren and Syrianska FC’s Sharbel Touma meant that they went into the final moments with the scores tied at 1-1. However, substitute Marcus Antonsson proved himself to be a hero and scored a last-minute header from a Kristoffer Fagerkrantz corner to steal all three points for Halmstad and condemn Syrianska FC to their ninth consecutive league game without a win.

Halmstad’s victory was also bad for Brommapojkarna, as it leaves last season’s Superettan runners-up in the relegation zone in fifteenth place after they suffered their third league defeat in a row at the hands of seventh-place Kalmar, losing 1-0 to them thanks to a first-half goal from Mans Söderqvist. Brommapojkarna face a tough clash against top-of-the-table IFK Göteborg next weekend, whilst Halmstad too will find it difficult to pull further away from the dreaded drop zone when they travel to fourth-place Elfsborg on Saturday afternoon.

Ben Cullimore

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

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