SCANDINAVIA: DENMARK, NORWAY AND SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Denmark

A worrying start for København and Nordsjælland leaves the 2011-12 and 2012-13 champions in the bottom two

After finishing in first and second place, respectively, last season, poor performances and shock results have meant that København and Nordsjælland occupy the bottom two positions in the Superliga table at the end of Round 2.

League giants København are the only side yet to win a point in the opening two games, and, as a result, find themselves in a very unfamiliar twelfth-place. After losing 2-1 away to Aalborg in the first game of the new season, the reigning champions went on to lose 1-0 to Midtjylland on Sunday evening, with Petter Andersson’s eighth-minute goal being all that separated the two sides.

As for Nordsjælland, they were only able to draw 1-1 with Viborg when they hosted the newly-promoted side on Friday evening, but the result will come as a relief after their season got off to a terrible start when they were thrashed 4-0 by Esbjerg last weekend. As for Viborg, they have drawn both of their opening games, and their trip to Odense next weekend will be seen as a realistic opportunity to win their first Superliga game since May 2008.

Odense, too, have gained a point in each of their opening games of the new season, and this weekend they did so against Randers, drawing 1-1 with them at AutoC Park Randers. Ronnie Schwartz (no. 11 – pictured above) opened the scoring for the hosts with three minutes of the first-half left to play, but Bashkim Kadrii equalised and rescued a point for Odense with twelve minutes remaining.

At the top of the table are Midtjylland, who, alongside Aalborg, extended their 100% record this weekend with their win against København, whilst Aalborg did so against fourth-place Esbjerg. Twenty-three-year-old Emil Lyng, who signed from Swiss side Lausanne Sport at the end of last season, opened the scoring for Esbjerg after twenty-three minutes with his first goal for the club, but a goal early into the second-half from Kasper Risgård (his first goal in only his second appearance for the club since his move from Silkeborg) and an unfortunate own-goal from Peter Ankersen nine minutes later made it two wins out of two for last season’s fifth-place finishers.

SønderjyskE currently lie in third place after they won their first game of the season on Sunday afternoon when they beat Brøndby 1-0, with Nicolai Madsen scoring the only goal of the game shortly after the hour mark. The defeat leaves Brøndby equal on points with both newly-promoted Vestsjælland, who they drew with in their opening game, and Nordsjælland.

As for Vestsjælland, the young club were beaten for the first time ever in the Superliga in Saturday’s only game when they lost 2-0 AGF, thanks to goals in either half from youngsters Osarna Akharraz and Casper Sloth. They now face a tough game against Aalborg next Monday, whilst AGF will be looking to win their second consecutive game when they host struggling Nordsjælland at NRGi Park on Saturday.

Norway

Rosenborg and Strømsgodset remain isolated at the top, whilst Molde slip back towards the relegation zone

League leaders Rosenborg remain two points ahead of second-place Strømsgodset after both sides were victorious this weekend. Both sides won in fine fashion too, with Rosenborg comfortably winning 4-1 against Brann, whilst Strømsgodset thrashed Hønefoss 6-1. It only took the second-place side two minutes to go ahead, thanks to a goal from Ola Kamara, and, despite Riku Riski equalising for Hønefoss twenty minutes later, Strømsgodset’s undeniable and complete dominance was on show for all to see during the early stages of the half. Kamara was undoubtedly the star of the show and could have scored a hat-trick within the first ten minutes, and he added to his early goal when he put Strømsgodset 4-1 ahead after only half-an-hour, bringing to an end a six minute period in which his side scored three times, with Øyvind Storflor putting Strømsgodset back ahead two minutes after Riski’s goal, before a Kristján Örn Sigurðsson own-goal made it 3-1 four minutes later. After forty minutes without a goal, Strømsgodset hit again through Péter Kovács to make it 5-1, and Ola Kamara completed his hat trick on the stroke of full-time and wrapped up a comprehensive victory for the title-chasers.

As for Rosenborg, the defeat they inflicted on Brann was the first that Brann Stadion had seen all season, as well as being the first time that the Bergensers had failed to win at home since November last year. An early goal from Danish striker Nicki Bille Nielsen gave the league leaders a goal advantage going into the half-time break, and two goals in three minutes early in the second-half from fellow Dane Mike Jensen and former Haugesund striker Alexander Søderlund (his first goal for the club in his first league appearance) extended their lead to 3-0 with little over half-an-hour left to play. John Chibuike made it 4-0 just before full-time, and Amin Askar pulled one back for Brann moments later, but it would prove to be of little consolation as Rosenborg went on to beat Brann by the greatest margin since their 4-0 thrashing of them in Trondheim in April.

The top-two sides remain six points clear of third-place Viking, who extended their unbeaten run to four games and won their first game in just over a month when they comfortably beat bottom-of-the-table Start 3-0 at home on Sunday, thanks to goals from Indriði Sigurðsson, Johan Lædre Bjørdal, and new signing Benjamin Sulimani, playing for the first time since his move from Austrian Bundesliga side Admira.

The win moves Viking above both Brann and Aalesund, with the latter dropping to fourth place after they lost for the first time in two months when struggling Sandnes Ulf pulled off a fantastic – not to mention surprising – win. Fredrik Torsteinbø gave the underdogs a 1-0 lead at half-time when he scored after twenty-eight minutes, but a successful spot-kick from Fredrik Ulvestad just two minutes after the restart brought Aalesund back on level terms. It would only last four minutes, however, as Henrik Furebotn put Sandnes Ulf back ahead with his second goal in as many games (and his second since joining the club from Sogndal at the start of the year), but Aalesund fought back and levelled yet again when Abderrazak Hamdallah scored with little over quarter-of-an-hour left to play. With it looking as if both sides would have to settle for a hard-earned point, Icelandic midfielder and throw-in celebrity Steinþór þorsteinsson was on hand to put Sandnes Ulf back in front for a third and final time when he scored with mere moments to go, securing their third consecutive league victory (the first time they have done so in just under a year and three months) and sending them out of the relegation zone and up to twelfth place.

Sandnes Ulf’s impressive win was bad news for Molde, who, with over half of the season already played, are still in danger of slipping into the relegation zone. After going six games unbeaten (and winning half of those), they were beaten 2-0 by Lillestrøm this weekend, with Bjørn Helge Riise and veteran Thorstein Helstad scoring to help Lillestrøm to their second win in a row and sending them up to tenth place. As for Molde, the defeat sees them slip down to thirteenth place, one point behind Sandnes Ulf and one point ahead of Sarpsborg 08.

Sarpsborg 08 are having a torrid time at the moment, and things didn’t get any better this weekend when they lost 5-3 to Vålerenga. Not only was the game special because it was an eight-goal thriller, but it was also special because it fell on Vålerenga’s 100th birthday, so it seems fitting that the Oslo side were able to win such an action-packed game in front of 12,500 spectators in the capital. Torgeir Børven and Bojan Zajić scored early on to put the hosts ahead after twenty-seven minutes, before Tom Erik Breive pulled one back for Sarpsborg 08 five minutes before the break. Børven struck for the second time four minutes after the restart to make it 3-1, but Sarpsborg 08 reduced the deficit to a goal again when Geancarlo González put the ball into the back of his own net. The pattern of Vålerenga scoring first and Sarpsborg 08 closely following them repeated itself one more time, with newly-signed Danish defender Nicolai Høgh scoring his first goal for the club in his first appearance, and Martin Wiig pulling one back for the visitors seven minutes later. Substitute Morten Berre put an end to the to-and-fro nature of the game four minutes later, however, when he put the game to bed with Vålerenga’s fifth goal with eight minutes left to play. The defeat sees Sarpsborg 08 drop into the relegation play-off spot in fourteenth place, just one point ahead of Hønefoss in the relegation zone. As for Vålerenga, the win extends their unbeaten run to five games and sends them up to seventh place, equal on points with Haugesund and one point ahead of Sogndal.

Sogndal, too, extended their unbeaten run this weekend when they drew 1-1 with Haugesund on Sunday afternoon to pick up their fourth consecutive draw. Despite not being quite as dramatic as Vålerenga’s 5-3 win, there were certainly some elements of drama in the clash at Fosshaugane Campus, with a last-minute Malick Mane penalty salvaging a point for Sogndal after nineteen-year-old Kristoffer Haraldseid had put Haugesund ahead fifteen minutes earlier with his first league goal for the club.

Sogndal are now just two points ahead of both ninth-place Odd and tenth-place Lillestrøm, after both sides were victorious. The former, who have embarked on an impressive run recently, only losing once in their last six league games, won for the third time in the last month when they beat Tromsø, who aren’t having such a good time at the moment, 3-1 at home in Skien. The hosts were 2-0 up after half-an-hour, thanks to goals from Fredrik Semb Berge and Frode Johnsen, and Adem Güven extended their lead to three goals midway through the second half. A successful penalty from Thomas Kind Bendiksen pulled one back for Tromsø with nine minutes left to play, but it was too little, too late for the side from the north, who slip down to eleventh place after only managing to win twice in their last eight games.

Sweden

Helsingborg extend their lead at the top of the table to five points, whilst AIK extend their unbeaten run to nine games.

Round 17 of Allsvenskan was spread over eight days and allowed Halmstad and Helsingborg the opportunity to catch up on their previously postponed game against one another, which the latter won 1-0 when they met at Örjans Vall on Wednesday evening, thanks to a fiftieth-minute goal from Norwegian midfielder Ardian Gashi. The league leaders then went on to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points when they were involved in a six-goal thriller with IFK Göteborg, beating the fourth-place side 4-2 in the capital. The hosts established a healthy lead early on, with Robin Söder and Tobias Hysén both scoring within four minutes of one another to give IFK Göteborg a 2-0 lead after twenty-six minutes, but Helsingborg were back on level terms at half-time after Loret Sadiku and David Accam went one better than Söder and Hysén and both scored within three minutes of one another just before the break. Mattias Lindström then put the visitors ahead seven minutes into the second half, before Accam wrapped up the win with his second goal of the game and his eighth goal of the season.

Malmö FF, leaders at the end of Round 16, ended this weekend in second place after they suffered only their third defeat of the season when they were beaten 2-0 away from home by eleventh-place Gefle, thanks to goals in either half from Simon Lundevall and Johan Oremo. Not only does the defeat leave them five points behind leaders Helsingborg, but it also leaves them equal on points with AIK, after the latter beat tenth-place Häcken last Monday to extend their unbeaten run in the league to nine games. AIK’s top goalscorer this season Kennedy Igboananike opened the scoring for them after only five minutes, but Häcken equalised seven minutes before half-time when Moestafa El Kabir, their current top goalscorer and the top goalscorer in Allsvenskan this season, scored his eleventh goal of the campaign. AIK were ahead once again shortly after the restart when Igboananike doubled his tally and scored for the ninth time this season, and right-back Martin Lorentzson made it 3-1 with quarter-of-an-hour left to play. Substitute Carlos Strandberg pulled one back for Häcken two minutes from time but it would prove to be only a consolation goal, as AIK held on to win their third consecutive league game and condemn Häcken to their third consecutive defeat.

As a result of IFK Göteborg failing to win in their last three league games, both fifth-place Elfsborg and sixth-place Kalmar were able to creep to within one point of the fourth-place side when they both picked up their seventh draws of the season. Elfsborg had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with seventh-place Åtvidaberg, who remain just one point behind them both, whilst Kalmar had to come from behind twice against struggling Brommapojkarna when they drew 2-2 at home on Saturday afternoon. Mauricio Albornoz opened the scoring from the penalty spot after half-an-hour for the visitors, before Norwegian defender Mats Solheim equalised for Kalmar nine minutes later. Brommapojkarna went ahead again ten minutes into the second-half, thanks to Andreas Eriksson’s first goal in a month-and-a-half, and it looked as if they were going to hold on to record a victory that would have brought them out of the relegation zone, but penalty-taking goalkeeper Etrit Berisha scored from the spot with ten minutes left to play to rescue a vital point for Kalmar as they aim to keep the pressure firmly on the top three.

Things remain as cramped as ever at the bottom of the table, with fifteenth-place Brommapojkarna, fourteenth-place Öster, and thirteenth-place Halmstad all still equal on fourteen points, after each side drew this weekend. Öster held eighth-place Mjällby to a 1-1 draw at home on Saturday, whilst Halmstad had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC on Monday evening, with Marcus Antonsson equalising for them with only eleven minutes left to play after Sebastian Rajalakso, on loan from Djurgården, put Syrianska FC ahead after just nine minutes with his second goal for the club.

As for Djurgården, the wonderful form they discovered when Per Mathias Høgmo took over at the club seems to have dwindled in recent weeks, and this weekend saw them lose for the second game in a row when they beaten 2-1 at home by Norrköping. The defeat sees them drop to twelfth place, just two points ahead of Halmstad, Öster, and Brommapojkarna, due to Gefle’s win over Malmö FF, whilst the victory sees Norrköping leapfrog Häcken and into ninth place.

 

Ben Cullimore

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

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