SCANDINAVIA: NORWAY & SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Norway

Rosenborg replace Strømsgodset at the top of the table, whilst Sandnes Ulf’s shock win sends Start to the bottom

After leading the way since Round 7, Strømsgodset finally lost their spot at the top of the Tippeligaen table this weekend after their shock defeat at the hands of struggling Sandnes Ulf on Sunday afternoon. Henrik Furebotn opened the scoring for Sandnes Ulf after thirty-three minutes with a half volley from the edge of the area, before Bismark Adjei-Boateng equalised for Strømsgodset four minutes later with a close-range header. Substitute Marius Helle came on for Zymer Bytyqi early in the second half and immediately made an impact when he twisted and turned past the Strømsgodset defence inside the penalty area before side-footing a deft shot past Adam Larsen Kwarasey to put Sandnes Ulf ahead once again. The underdogs dominated the rest of the game and that’s how the scores finished, condemning Strømsgodset to their fourth defeat this season and their third in their last four league games, after a poor run has seen them pick up only three points since their 1-0 defeat against Rosenborg on June 22nd. Meanwhile, for Sandnes Ulf, the win is their second in a row and moves them off the foot of the table and into fifteenth place. Despite still being in the relegation zone, they now sit equal on points with fourteenth-place Hønefoss and one point behind Sarpsborg 08, as the latter’s fall down the table continues.

Strømsgodset’s defeat meant that Rosenborg could take the top spot if they were victorious against Odd when the two sides met in Trondheim later that afternoon, and that’s exactly what they did, beating them 3-2 thanks to three goals in the opening hour from John Chibuike, Bořek Dočkal, and Daniel Berntsen (his first Tippeligaen goal). A sixty-fourth-minute header from Frode Johnsen pulled one back for Odd, before Herolind Shala reduced the deficit to just one goal on the stroke of full time when he scored from the penalty spot after Mikael Dorsin was judged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area. Odd might have had a chance of completing a wonderful late comeback but Jone Samuelsen was sent off shortly after for striking Mike Jensen in the face with his arm as the two battled for the ball, and Rosenborg were able to hold on for the few remaining moments to extend their unbeaten run to ten league games and move two points clear of Strømsgodset at the top of the table.

Just four points now separate Strømsgodset and third-place Aalesund after the latter won their first game since the end of June to keep the pressure firmly on the top two sides. They beat Haugesund 2-1 when they met at Haugesund Stadion on Sunday afternoon, condemning the hosts to their third defeat in their last five games and extending the gap between the two sides to five points. After early dominance from Haugesund, Peter Orry Larsen opened the scoring for Aalesund after twenty-five minutes when he connected with Jo Nymo Matland’s free kick with a deft header, but the hosts equalised nine minutes later thanks to a close-range toe-poke from Brazilian striker Daniel Bamberg. The scores stayed level until the hour mark when Fredrik Carlsen weaved his way through the Haugesund defence before slotting the ball past Per Morten Kristiansen to score what would prove to be the winning goal, sending Aalesund away from both fourth-place Brann and fifth-place Viking, who they were equal on points with before this weekend’s action.

Both Brann and Viking were held to draws in their respective games, with the former involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Start, whilst the latter drew 1-1 with Molde. Start, who have not won a league game since mid-May when they beat Odd 1-0, were ahead after only three minutes thanks to a high and looping overhead kick from Rolf Daniel Vikstøl, but Martin Pusic equalised just five minutes later for Brann when an unfortunate deflection sent the ball into his path and allowed him to fire with ease past Start goalkeeper – and former Brann player for ten years – Håkon Opdal. Start were ahead again quarter-of-an-hour later, however, when Ernest Asante scored from the edge of the penalty area with a thumping strike into the top right-hand corner of the goal, and the relegation candidates would remain 2-1 ahead going into the half-time break. Their second half lead would only last two minutes, after a Glenn Andersen own-goal put Brann back on level terms once again, and Brann went ahead for the first time in the game twenty-five minutes later when Kristoffer Larsen’s long-range effort was parried into the back of the Start net by Opdal’s right hand as he failed to adequately deal with it. Their lead would only last five minutes, as a Beckham-esque free kick from Guðmundur Kristjánsson leveled the scores at 3-3 with quarter-of-an-hour left to play, and that’s how the game would end, despite Start going down to ten men in the final moments when Solomon Owello was shown a straight red card when he brought down Birkir Már Sævarsson on the edge of the penalty area.

As for Viking, it looked as if they might come away from Aker Stadion with all three points after Trond Olsen’s thirtieth-minute opener, but a header from Joona Toivio eight minutes from the end salvaged a point for Molde and extended their unbeaten run to six league games. The reigning champions remain in eleventh place but are now equal on points with tenth-place Odd after their defeat.

The draw sees Lillestrøm move equal on points with Molde, however, after they ended their run of three consecutive defeats by beating struggling Sarpsborg 08 1-0 at Sarpsborg Stadion on Sunday. Fredrik Gulbrandsen scored the game’s only goal twenty-five minutes before the end of his final appearance for Lillestrøm before he leaves Kanarifuglene for Molde after the two clubs agreed a fee for the youngster last week.

As for Sarpsborg 08, the defeat is their third in a row, and it leaves them just one point clear of fourteenth-place Hønefoss and fifteenth-place Sandnes Ulf. The latter may have had a wonderful weekend thanks to their 2-1 victory over Strømsgodset, but the weekend wasn’t so good for Hønefoss as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Vålerenga in a game in which they were forced to play eighty-six minutes with only ten men after Pål Erik Ulvestad was shown a straight red card for bringing down Torgeir Børven in front of goal with just the goalkeeper to beat. Vålerenga dominated the first half, hitting the woodwork on several occasions, but it wasn’t until the forty-first minute that they managed to go ahead, when Jan Gunnar Solli side-footed the ball into the bottom-right-hand corner of the net for his second league goal this season. Riku Riski equalised for the hosts from the penalty spot just four minutes later after goalscorer Solli brought down Mikkel Vendelbo inside the penalty area, but substitute Morten Berre ensured that Vålerenga would leave Aka Arena with all three points and moved to the top of the Tippeligaen top goalscorers table when he fired in the winner from the edge of the box with little under half-an-hour left to play.

Vålerenga have now only lost once in their last seven league games, and the victory sees them climb up to eighth place, sandwiched between seventh-place Sogndal and ninth-place Tromsø who had to share the points when the two sides met at Alfheim Stadion on Sunday. Sogndal, who had drawn their last two league games before this weekend, went 2-0 up after only twenty-six minutes, thanks to two goals in four minutes from Azar Karadas and Magnus Stamnestrø, but Zdeněk Ondrášek reduced the deficit to one goal at the half-time break after he scored his first goal in over two months seven minutes before the whistle blew. Tromsø went down to ten men midway through the second-half after Welsh midfield Joshua Pritchard – on loan from Fulham – received two yellow cards in only four minutes for two equally risky challenges, but that didn’t deter them and Polish centre back (and former Bolton Wanderers player) Jarosław Fojut scored his first league goal for the club since his move from Polish side Śląsk Wrocław last December to rescue Tromsø from defeat and earn them their first point since their 2-0 home win against Lillestrøm almost a month ago.

Sweden

Malmö FF go top of the table, but Helsingborg keep the pressure firmly on them with a game still in hand

The top quarter of the Allsvenskan table remains as cramped as ever, but Malmö FF, who started the weekend in second place, overtook leaders IFK Göteborg to claim first place for themselves when they won their ninth league game of the season this weekend. They did so in fine fashion too, thrashing Åtvidaberg 4-0 at home, thanks to a Magnus Eriksson brace and a goal each in the second-half from Erik Friberg and Emil Forsberg.

Malmö FF remain only one point ahead of second-place Helsingborg, however, after the latter easily beat Öster 3-0 at home in Monday evening’s only game. David Accam put the hosts ahead after thirty-eight minutes, before a second-half double from Christoffer Andersson (before he was sent off for receiving a second yellow card four minutes after scoring his second goal) wrapped up a comfortable win against the fourteenth-place side. Helsingborg still have a game in hand over the majority of the field, including Malmö FF, and with both sides in fine form and having only lost twice so far this season, victory or defeat in that game could prove to be the difference between first and second place for the 2011 league champions.

The cramped nature of the top of the table was perfectly exhibited in IFK Göteborg’s fall from first to fourth place over the course of the weekend, after they were beaten 2-1 by struggling Brommapojkarna in one of the biggest shocks of the weekend. Brommapojkarna, who before today had only won twice this season, and hadn’t been victorious since their 4-1 win at home to Gefle in May, were 2-0 up against the league leaders after only twenty-four minutes thanks to goals from Mauricio Albornoz and Gustav Sandberg-Magnusson, and, despite pulling a goal back shortly after the hour-mark through Robin Söder (his fourth league goal in as many games), IFK Göteborg were unable to fight their way past a resolute Brommapojkarna side and salvage a point, allowing the relegation candidates to secure a hugely important win that puts them equal on points with both fourteenth-place Öster and thirteenth-place Halmstad.

As for IFK Göteborg, they now sit equal on points with AIK, who moved above them to third place after they comfortably beat bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC 2-1 away from home, despite going down to ten men midway through the second half when Alexander Milosevic was shown a straight red card. A brace from Kennedy Igboananike, with goals coming in either half, put the visitors 2-0 ahead after forty-nine minutes, and Dinko Felic’s eighty-eighth-minute goal for Syrianska FC was little more than a consolation for bottom-place side, as they went on to suffer their fifth consecutive league defeat, extending their run of games without victory to ten and leaving them four points behind Brommapojkarna, Öster and Halmstad.

AIK’s win also sent them above Elfsborg, who drop from fourth place to fifth after they were only able to draw with Halmstad. They had to come from behind to salvage a point too, after Halmstad – who only won their second league game of the season last week when they beat Syrianska FC 2-1 – went 2-0 up before the half-time break, thanks to goals from Mikael Boman and Guðjón Baldvinsson. Twenty-one-year-old Sebastian Holmén was on hand to pull one back for the reigning champions twenty minutes into the second half, and Marcus Rohdén completed the comeback with just two minutes remaining to help Elfsborg avoid losing for the second time in as many weeks.

Elfsborg are now equal on points with sixth-place Kalmar after they won their second consecutive league game and extended their unbeaten run to five league games when they narrowly beat Häcken away from home on Saturday afternoon. The game almost ended in a draw, which would have sent Häcken two points clear of fast-approaching Norrköping behind them, but Melker Hallberg scored the game’s only goal two minutes into injury time to send Kalmar above Åtvidaberg after they lost for the first time in a month-and-a-half.

In the bottom half of the table, eleventh-place Djurgården’s impressive unbeaten run was finally brought to an end after seven games when Mjällby beat them 2-0 at home in Hällevik. The game was all but over by the seventeenth minute, with early goals from Robin Strömberg and Craig Henderson all that separated the two sides at the final whistle. Djurgården are now only two points ahead of twelfth-place Gefle and three points behind tenth-place Norrköping, but they still have a game in hand over Gefle, which they will play against the latter at the end of August.

As for Gefle and Norrköping, the two sides played one another on Sunday afternoon in Gävle, with Norrköping coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 to move one point behind ninth-place Häcken. Simon Lundevall opened the scoring for the hosts after twenty-four minutes, before Imad Khalili, the club’s second highest goalscorer this season, scored his sixth goal of the season ten minutes later to equalise for Norrköping. Gefle then went ahead once again through Alexander Faltsetas after seventy-two minutes, but Luxembourgian-Norwegian midfielder Lars Krogh Gerson scored a last-minute goal to rescue a point for the visitors.

Ben Cullimore

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

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