SCANDINAVIA: DENMARK, NORWAY AND SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Denmark

Midtjylland remain six points clear at the top, whilst both København and Brøndby are still searching for their first wins of the season.

Despite losing their 100% record this weekend, Midtjylland’s healthy six-point lead at the top of the table remains intact. They travelled to Nordjyske Arena to take on Aalborg in the round’s final game on Monday evening, but were only able to come away with a single point. The league leaders found themselves 1-0 down early on when Anders Jacobsen opened the scoring for the hosts after only three minutes, but Lasse Nielsen accidentally put the ball into the back of his own net ten minutes into the second half to score what would prove to be the all-important equaliser for Midtjylland.

Behind them are Odense and AGF, who are both tied on ten points and end the weekend in second and third place, respectively, after Esbjerg lost for the second consecutive week. Their defeat came away from home to Viborg, with the newly promoted side winning 3-1 to win their second game of the season, thanks to a brace from the league’s current top goalscorer Thomas Dalgaard and a first goal of the season from American defender Babajide Ogunbiyi, which was also his first goal since his return to the club after spells at both the New York Red Bulls and Danish 1st Division side Vendsyssel. Viborg have only lost once in their opening six league games, and sit equal on points with both Esbjerg and sixth-place Randers.

As for Odense and AGF, they were victorious against Nordsjælland and SønderjyskE, respectively. Odense – who, alongside Midtjylland – are one of only two sides yet to lose this season – left it late to beat last season’s runners-up, with substitute Jeppe Hansen scoring eight minutes before full-time, whilst AGF went 1-0 down to SønderjyskE after only four minutes but came back to beat the tenth-place side 3-1, thanks to an eighth-minute equaliser from Hjalte Nørregaard and a second-half brace (with both goals coming within three minutes of one another) from Søren Larsen.

At the bottom of the table, København and Brøndby are still searching for their first wins of the season. Whilst there’s no doubt that Brøndby’s start to the 2013-14 season has been poor, København’s can only be described as a total failure, and the club have seemingly already given up on any hope of retaining their championship crown, whilst they have also replaced manager Ariël Jacobs with former boss Ståle Solbakken in the hope of turning things around. However, this weekend saw much of the same from the uninspiring reigning champions, as they only managed to draw 1-1 at home to Superliga new boys Vestsjælland, leaving them with only three points from their opening six games of the season. As if things weren’t bad enough, further problems could also be coming København’s way soon, after newly signed Nigerian striker Fanendo Adi, who scored their opening goal in Sunday’s game against Vestsjælland, was fielded by the club despite not yet receiving his work or residence permit. Although no action has been taken just yet, the club have risked receiving a hefty fine and/or a points deduction for their actions.

Meanwhile, Brøndby, who remain bottom of the table for another week with three points, were involved in a goalless draw with Randers at Brøndby Stadion later that same day. Randers have only lost once so far this season and finish the weekend in sixth place, one point ahead of seventh-place Aalborg and equal on points with fourth-place Esbjerg and fifth-place Viborg.

Norway

Two points still separate Rosenborg and Strømsgodset, whilst struggling Hønefoss win for the first time since mid-May.

The gap between league leaders Rosenborg and second-place Strømsgodset remains just two points for a fifth consecutive week, with both sides winning their games this weekend after drawing their previous two clashes. Both faced opposition from the bottom half of the table, with Strømsgodset hosting Molde, who were unbeaten in their last three games before this weekend, and Rosenborg travelling to Sandnes Ulf, who had won five of their previous six league games after embarking on an impressive midseason turnaround.

In Drammen, Strømsgodset beat the struggling reigning champions 5-2 in a game that saw six different players get on the score sheet. Ola Kamara got the hosts off to a flying start when he fired them in front after only 10 minutes, before Fredrik Gulbrandsen equalised for Molde shortly after the half-hour mark with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area. Strømsgodset went ahead again shortly before the half-time break, however, thanks to a second goal of the month for Jarl André Storbæk, but the visitors equalised once more six minutes after the restart through a looping Martin Linnes header after he found himself on the end of a great lofted pass by Emmanuel Ekpo. That would be the last time that the scores were level, and substitute Monuir Hamoud kick-started a second-half of Strømsgodset dominance when he scored just before the hour mark to put the hosts back in the lead, before Øyvind Storflor made it 4-2 three minutes later, and Ola Kamara wrapped up the win from the penalty spot with nine minutes left to play. Strømsgodset are now unbeaten at home in their last 34 league games, with their last defeat at Marienlyst Stadion coming against this weekend’s opponents in June 2011.

As for Rosenborg, they had to embark on a late comeback to leave Sandnes Idrettspark with all three points. It looked as if the league leaders might have to travel back to Trondheim without a single point after a 31st-minute successful penalty from Aksel Skjølsvik and a 69th-minute goal from Kenneth Sola cancelled out Alexander Søderlund’s first-minute opener, but two goals in the last 10 minutes from Tore Reginiussen and Pål André Helland (his first goal since re-signing for the club from last season’s Norwegian Cup winners Hødd) ensured that Rosenborg beat Sandnes Ulf to remain with a two point advantage over Strømsgodset for another week.

After closing the gap to three points last weekend, Aalesund are now five points behind Strømsgodset in third place after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by second-to-bottom-place Start on Sunday afternoon. Both goals came in the latter part of the game, with Michael Barrantes opening the scoring after 73 minutes before newly signed Finnish midfielder Markus Heikkinen equalised for the strugglers four minutes later with his first goal in his first full appearance for the club.

The gap between Aalesund and Haugesund has also shortened after the latter took advantage of Viking’s 1-0 defeat to Sogndal on Saturday to move above them and into fourth place with their fourth consecutive league victory. They did so at home to thirteenth-place Tromsø, with Dušan Cvetinović scoring the only goal of the game (his second in his first five games for the club) late in the second half. Haugesund are now unbeaten in their last five league games, whilst Tromsø have failed to win in their last eight, with six of those – including their last three in a row – ending in defeat.

The club from the Arctic Circle remain in deep trouble near the bottom of the table, and only two points now separate them from the dreaded drop zone after Hønefoss came out on top against fellow strugglers Sarpsborg 08 in a game that was vitally important for both sides to win. They beat them 3-1, with all three goals coming in the second half to cancel out Martin Wiig’s 11th-minute opener, and two of the three coming in the last three minutes to deny Sarpsborg 08 their first point since June 22nd and stealing Hønefoss their first victory since mid-May.

The victory also sees Hønefoss finish the weekend outside of the relegation zone in 14th place, albeit equal on points with 15th-place Start and only ahead of them on goal difference by one goal. Both are in action against sides that are near to them in the table next weekend, with Hønefoss travelling to the icy north to face Tromsø and Start hosting Sandnes Ulf.

Sandnes Ulf sit four points ahead of Tromsø in 12th place with 25 points, equal on points with both 10th-place Molde and 11th-place Lillestrøm after the latter picked up their fourth consecutive draw in the league against Vålerenga this weekend. The draw was Vålerenga’s third in their last four games, and leaves them just two points ahead in eighth place, one point ahead of Odd who were beaten for the first time in over a month when their clash at home to sixth-place Brann ended 3-1 to the Bergensers. Frode Johnsen showed great control and technique when he half-volleyed Odd into the lead after only five minutes, but Martin Pusic equalised 20 minutes later with a header from close range. The scores stayed level at 1-1 until seven minutes before full-time when youngster Kristoffer Barmen’s volleyed shot put Brann ahead, and gave him his first goal of the season, and Pusic scored again two minutes into injury time to wrap up Brann’s first away win of the season after only managing to draw twice in their previous 10 games away from Brann Stadion this campaign.

Sweden

Malmö FF remain three points clear at the top, whilst bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC are now eleven points from safety.

After overtaking Helsingborg and claiming top spot last weekend, Malmö FF kept their three-point lead at the top of the Allsvenskan table intact this week with a 3-1 win at home to fourth-place IFK Göteborg on Sunday afternoon. They had to come from behind, however, as the visitors went ahead through Robin Söder after eighteen minutes, but twenty-two-year-old defender Pontus Jansson equalised just three minutes later with his first goal of the season, and Emil Forsberg put them 2-1 ahead on the stroke of half time. With quarter-of-an-hour left to play, Jiloan Hamad wrapped up a fourth consecutive win for the league leaders and condemned IFK Göteborg to their first defeat of the month after winning their previous three games in a row.

IFK Göteborg remain equal on points with AIK, however, after the third-place side were also beaten in their game this weekend, surprisingly losing 1-0 away from home against struggling Halmstad, with a forty-first-minute successful penalty from veteran Stefan Selaković (who, ironically, spent the last seven years of his career with IFK Göteborg) being all that separated the two sides.

The win was Halmstad’s second in their last three league games, and leaves them with only one defeat in their last five, after a midseason turnaround that has seen them climb out of the relegation zone and into the relegation play-off spot in fourteenth-place. However, they are still tied on twenty-one points with second-to-bottom-place Brommapojkarna, after they also won for the second time in their last three league games when they beat ninth-place Mjällby 2-0 on Monday evening, thanks to a first-half goal from Gustav Sandberg-Magnusson and a second-half successful penalty from Mauricio Albornoz.

Both sides are also now just one point behind thirteenth-place Gefle, whose five game unbeaten streak was brought to an end by second-place Helsingborg this weekend. Gefle went ahead after nineteen minutes through Jakob Orlov, but goals in either half from Arnór Smárason and Imad Khalili secured all three points for Helsingborg and made sure that the gap between them and league leaders Malmö FF remains at just three points for another week.

Öster’s impressive climb up the table continued with a fantastic 4-2 win against reigning champions Elfsborg, with all four goals being scored by Pablo Piñones-Arce, who has now scored six goals in his last three games in all competitions. With little over twenty minutes left to play and Öster 2-1 ahead, Elfsborg were reduced to ten men when Tom Söderberg was shown his second yellow card of the game, allowing Piñones-Arce score two goals in three minutes, before Johan Larsson pulled one back from the penalty spot with a minute remaining. Elfsborg are now in sixth place with thirty-one points, one point behind fifth-place Kalmar, who drew 0-0 with seventh-place Åtvidaberg on Monday, whilst the victory moves Öster up to eleventh with twenty-four, equal on points with twelfth-place Häcken, who beat eighth-place Norrköping 1-0, and two points behind tenth-place Djurgården.

Djurgården, who suffered a terrible start to the season, have also been in impressive form recently, losing only once in their last five games, whilst being unbeaten in their last three, with two of those, including this weekend’s game against Syrianska FC, ending in victories. They beat the bottom-of-the-table side 3-1 away from home on Monday evening, with Haris Radetinac, Simon Tibbling, and Andreas Johansson all scoring in the final twenty minutes to cancel out Louay Chanko’s thirty-second-minute opener. Things are looking bleak for Syrianska FC, as the side from Södertälje have lost their last four consecutive league games and lie eleven points behind Brommapojkarna and Halmstad. With nine games of the season remaining and with just two victories so far, their chances of survival are looking very slim.

Ben Cullimore

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

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