SCANDINAVIA: DENMARK, NORWAY AND SWEDEN WEEKLY REVIEW

Denmark

Midtjylland’s flying start slows down, whilst København finally win their first game of the season.

After failing to win any of their six opening games, reigning champions København finally picked up their first win of the season this weekend. The positive effect of Ståle Solbakken’s hiring as manager was clear to see when his side travelled to Viborg on Sunday afternoon, with the club from the capital comfortably beating the newly promoted side 4-1. Brazilian midfielder Claudemir opened the scoring after twenty-one minutes, before recently-signed Olof Mellberg scored his first goal for the club twelve minutes later to give them a 2-0 lead going into half-time. Igor Vetokele furthered their advantage to three goals with little under twenty-five minutes left to play, and Fanendo Adi, recently cleared to play for København after controversy surrounding his lack of work or residence permit, made it 4-0 with ten minutes left with his second goal in as many games since his move from Slovak side Trenčín.

København’s win means that Brøndby are now the only side yet to win a game so far this season, after they were beaten by Aalborg at the last minute on Sunday evening. Thanks to a seventy-second-minute goal from Simon Makienok, Brøndby went into the final ten minutes 1-0 ahead, but two late goals from Henrik Dalsgaard and Anders Jacobsen not only ruined Brøndby’s chances of leaving Nordjyske Arena with their first win of the season but also ruined their chances of leaving with a single point. The defeat – their fourth of the campaign – leaves them bottom of the table with only three points from their opening seven games, whilst Aalborg end the week in third place, just one point ahead of fourth-place Esbjerg, fifth-place Odense, and sixth-place Vestsjælland.

Vestsjælland have started their first ever Superliga season in fine fashion, and were victorious for the second time this week when they came from behind to beat struggling Nordsjælland 2-1 away from home. Mario Tičinović put the hosts ahead shortly before the half-hour mark with his first goal of the season, but a double from Brazilian striker Borges would prove to be enough to secure another impressive win for Vestsjælland, and extend their unbeaten run to five games in the process.

They are now equal on both points and goal difference with Odense (although they have scored less goals than the fifth-spot side, leaving them one place behind them) after De Stribede were beaten in a thrilling nine-goal game at home to AGF on Friday. After finding themselves 2-0 up with thirty-five minutes on the clock, Odense were 3-2 down just four minutes into the second half, with Osarna Akharraz scoring AGF’s first goal on the stroke of half-time before French defender Arthur Sorin and newly-signed Alexander Juel Andersen scored in quick succession shortly after the restart. Morten Skoubo managed to equalise for the hosts twelve minutes later, but three goals in the final fifteen minutes from Søren Larsen, Jesper Lange, and Davit Devdariani completed an impressive performance from last season’s seventh-place finishers that leaves them in second place for another week.

They are now just four points behind league leaders Midtjylland, whose flying start to the season has slowed down with two draws in two consecutive games. This weekend’s draw came away from home against fourth-place Esbjerg, and they had to rely on Morten Rasmussen’s eighty-second-minute equaliser to salvage them a draw after going behind after thirty-seven minutes when Pape Pate Diouf scored his first goal for Esbjerg since joining the club on loan from København. Midtjylland remain the only side unbeaten so far this season, and, despite their two draws, have also won the most games of any side, with five victories from their opening seven games.

Elsewhere, SønderjyskE picked up a hugely important win away from home against Randers on Monday evening to move them three points clear of the relegation zone after a shaky start to the season. The hosts were reduced to ten men after only fourteen minutes when Ronnie Schwartz was shown a straight red card, and the visitors made the numerical advantage count, with Bjørn Paulsen and Tommy Bechmann scoring second-half goals to win SønderjyskE only their second game of the season so far. As for Randers, the defeat is their second of the season and leaves them in eighth place at the end of the round, equal on points with seventh-place Viborg and just one ahead of SønderjyskE.

Norway

Rosenborg pull away from Strømsgodset at the top, whilst Molde move into the top half of the table.

With eight games of the 2013 season left to play, Rosenborg find themselves five points clear of second-place Strømsgodset after they won their fourteenth game of the season, extending their unbeaten run in the league to sixteen games in the process. Their latest victory came at home to third-place Aalesund, who, before this weekend, had only lost once in their last nine games as they aimed to keep the pressure firmly on Strømsgodset, whilst also aiming to keep fast-approaching Viking and Haugesund at bay. Danes ran the show for Rosenborg, with Tobias Mikkelsen putting them ahead after twenty-seven minutes, before Nicki Bille Nielsen cancelled out Peter Orry Larsen’s seventy-fifth-minute equaliser for Aalesund and stole all three points for the league leaders with only five minutes left to play.

Only two points had separated Rosenborg and Strømsgodset for the last five rounds, but Strømsgodset’s inability to win away to fourth-place Viking on Sunday meant that the title is now arguably Rosenborg’s to lose as we enter the final two months of the season. King Osei Gyan scored Viking’s only goal in their 1-0 victory over Strømsgodset, and the three points leave them just one behind Aalesund and a Europa League spot.

The win also moves Viking one point ahead of Haugesund, after the fifth-place side were beaten for the first time in one-and-a-half months by a team that had only tasted victory once in their previous fourteen games before this weekend. That team were Sarpsborg 08, who came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 late on, thanks to a sixty-sixth-minute equaliser from Tom Erik Breive and a last-minute winner from Aaron Samuel Olanare, the nineteen-year-old Nigerian’s second goal for the club since his move from Vålerenga in July. Sarpsborg 08 remain bottom of the table but are now equal on points with fifteenth-place Hønefoss, who drew 1-1 with thirteenth-place Tromsø, and only five points separate them and twelfth-place Sandnes Ulf, with Tromsø and fourteenth-place Start sandwiched in the middle with twenty-two points each.

Start were also victorious this weekend, and their win moves them out of the relegation zone and into the relegation play-off spot. They won in fine fashion, mercilessly thrashing Sandnes Ulf 7-0 at home on Sunday afternoon, with Icelandic forward Matthías Vilhjálmsson scoring a hat-trick, and Rolf Daniel Vikstøl, Ernest Asante, Espen Hoff, and Bismark Acosta all joining him on the score sheet. The win is the biggest win of the season so far, and is the biggest Tippeligaen win since Rosenborg beat Odd by the same scoreline over two years ago. After winning twice on the bounce, Sandnes Ulf have now lost their last two league games, and they face an important clash against Sarpsborg 08 when the league resumes after the international break in two weeks’ time.

Odd remain just one point ahead of Sandnes Ulf in eleventh-place after they also suffered their second defeat in a row, losing 1-0 to Lillestrøm in a game that saw them reduced to ten men after only half-an-hour when Frode Kippe was shown a red card, just ten minutes before youngster Fredrik Oldrup Jensen put the ball into the back of his own net to score the only goal of the game.

The win moves Lillestrøm ahead of Odd and into ninth-place, equal on points with Molde who also overtook Odd after they comfortably beat tenth-place Vålerenga 4-0 at home on Sunday. The reigning champions were 3-0 up after only twenty-five minutes, thanks to a brace from Fredrik Gulbrandsen and a sixth league goal of the season for Jo Inge Berget, before Martin Linnes wrapped up Molde’s third win in their last five league games with five minutes left to play.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side end Round 22 in the top half of the table in eighth place, with seventh-place Sogndal just one point ahead of them after they were beaten 1-0 by Brann. Martin Pusic – who has now scored four times in his last three games – scored the only goal of the game after six minutes, and the win moves Brann four points clear of Sogndal in sixth place.

Sweden

Malmö FF’s lead at the top is reduced to just one point, whilst Syrianska FC remain as isolated as ever at the bottom.

After winning their previous four league games in a row, Malmö FF were held to a 1-1 draw by eleventh-place Öster, who have turned their season around and are now unbeaten in their last six games as they slowly but surely pull away from the dreaded drop zone.

The draw also means that Malmö FF’s lead at the top is now just one point after Helsingborg won for the second consecutive week, thanks to a 4-2 win at home to second-to-bottom-place Brommapojkarna on Friday evening. Mauricio Albornoz scored both goals for the visitors and the scores remained level heading into the final few minutes of the game, but Mattias Lindström scored his second goal of the day with five minutes remaining to put the second-place side 3-2 ahead, and substitute Álvaro Santos wrapped up the win on the stroke of full-time with his second goal in his last three games.

The rest of the top half of the table bar Mjällby were also victorious this weekend, keeping things rather tight near the top. Both AIK and IFK Göteborg remain tied on forty-one points in third and fourth place, respectively, with both sides winning 3-0 to pick up their twelfth wins of the season. AIK beat thirteenth-place Gefle, thanks to an own-goal from Anders Wikström and second-half goals from Celso Borges and Nils Eric Johansson, whilst a Kjetil Wæhler brace (the defender’s first goals for the club since his move from Danish side Aalborg in 2012) and a first league goal for the club from Lasse Vibe were all it took for IFK Göteborg to comfortably beat ninth-place Åtvidaberg.

Six points behind the two clubs sit Kalmar in sixth place, who narrowly beat fourteenth-place Halmstad 1-0 to win their first game in just under a month after going three without a victory. They remain one point ahead of reigning champions Elfsborg, who snatched a victory away from Djurgården at the last moment when Mohamed Bangura scored with mere moments left to play to record a 2-1 win for Di Gule. Djurgården remain in tenth place, but are now just one point ahead of both Öster and Häcken after the latter drew 1-1 with eighth-place Mjällby on Sunday afternoon.

The win of the weekend goes to Norrköping, who bounced back to winning ways after two games without a point by thrashing bottom-of-the-table Syrianska FC 6-1, with six different players getting on the score sheet in a game that Syrianska FC were forced to play with only ten men for the majority of, after Suleyman Sleyman was shown a straight red card midway through the first half. Life just gets more and more depressing for the bottom-place side, and they are now eleven points behind nearest rivals Brommapojkarna and have only picked up one point in their last eleven games.

 

Ben Cullimore

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

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