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by Back Page Football

Scandinavia

Tippeligaen – Round 13

Life after Ronny Deila is something that many Strømsgodset fans had been reluctant to think about until it was forced upon them last week with the Norwegian’s appointment as the new manager of Celtic, but their first game under David Nielsen, their new coach and Deila’s former assistant, did much to ease any fears that they might have had, ending with a well-earned 2-1 win at home to Haugesund to keep them hot on the heels of league leaders Molde. However, this week was a different story, as a 3-0 defeat away to Lillestrøm brought them crashing back down to earth, highlighting the possible difficulties that Strømsgodset might have to face in a post-Deila world.

Like Haugesund on Monday, it did not take long for Lillestrøm to take the lead – six minutes, in fact – as Moryké Fofana was given space to twist and turn on the edge of the penalty box before firing in past the outstretched figure of Anders Gundersen in the Strømsgodset goalmouth. Lillestrøm were then 2-0 ahead just 19 minutes later after further exploiting the gaps in Strømsgodset’s defence, with Fofana this time the provider and Erling Knudtzon the goalscorer. Strømsgodset pushed as many men forward as possible to try and find a way back into the game, but they were punished for their risky behaviour, as, with little under 20 minutes left to play, Knudtzon burst down the left wing on a blistering counter attack before cutting inside and firing a curling shot that bounced off Gundersen’s left post. Luckily for Lillestrøm, substitute Tommy Høiland was there to nonchalantly tap the ball into the back of an empty net, wrapping up an important 3-0 win and instilling a sense of worry and nervousness in the minds of the Strømsgodset fans.

Strømsgodset remain in second place but are now equal on points with Odd, who piled more pressure and misery on Brann by beating them 1-0 in Bergen, extending their losing streak to five games and sending them down to the bottom of the table in the process. Brann’s weak and lacklustre defence fell apart shortly before the half-hour mark, allowing Jarkko Hurme to fire home his first goal for Odd since his move from Finnish side TPS before the start of the season. The win extends Odd’s unbeaten streak to five league games, whilst Brann, in stark contrast, have now lost their last five consecutive clashes, winning only once in almost two months.

Haugesund, who propped up the table before the start of Round 13, were able to take advantage of Brann’s misery by beating Sarpsborg 08 to pick up only their second win of the season, bringing an end to a six-game winless streak. They did so in fine fashion, thrashing their opponents, who themselves are not having the best of campaigns, 4-0 at Haugesund Stadion, thanks to a brace from Maic Sema (his first goals for the club since his return from Dutch side MVV Maastricht) and first-half goals from Christian Gytkjær and Geir Ludvig Fevang.

League leaders Molde are clearly the team to beat this season, and they now sit six points clear of Strømsgodset after the latter side’s defeat against Lillestrøm. Molde were only able to draw this week, however, as they were valiantly held to a 1-1 draw by a revitalised Bodø/Glimt side that have only lost once in their last six league games. They were arguably gifted the 1-1 draw, however, as Molde’s 15th-minute opener, a fantastic curling free-kick scored by Finnish defender Joona Toivio, was cancelled out by a rather comic own-goal by Ole Martin Rindarøy shortly after the hour mark had passed. The 19-year-old defender, who was making only his second appearance for Molde in the league this year, attempted to clear a dangerous Lillestrøm corner at the back post but instead missed the ball entirely and ended up sending it bouncing into the back of the net with the knee of his right leg.

The point keeps Bodø/Glimt in ninth place, but they are now equal on points with both Sogndal and Stabæk, the latter of whom suffered their third straight defeat, one that leaves them in danger of dropping out of the top half of the table when the league gets back underway in early July. Their latest defeat came away to Viking, a side that, like them, have suffered several poor results due to the erratic nature of their performances. However, after six games without a victory left them in danger of dropping as low as 10th place by the end of Round 14, they returned to winning ways this week by comfortably beating Stabæk 4-1. The victory keeps them in seventh place, equal on points with sixth-place Lillestrøm, whilst Stabæk remain in eighth place but are now tied on 18 points with both Bodø/Glimt and Sogndal. The latter side are in fine form at the moment, slowly but surely creeping their way into the top half of the table, and this week saw them pull off a fantastic 2-0 victory against a Vålerenga side that, before this round, were unbeaten in their last seven games and looked like Strømsgodset’s nearest challengers for the runners-up spot. However, second-half goals from Ulrik Flo and Ruben Holsæter condemn Kjetil Rekdal’s side to fifth place ahead of their crunch game against Odd, who sit just one point ahead of them, on July 7th.

Vålerenga’s defeat means that Rosenborg are now within touching distance of second place, as they lie just one point behind Strømsgodset and Odd in fourth place after they beat Start in a six-goal thriller in Kristiansand. Braces for Alexander Søderlund and Riku Riski – the club’s two top goalscorers so far this season – helped them to a 4-2 win, one that sends the hosts down to 12th place in the table, just two points clear of Sandnes Ulf in the relegation zone. Sandnes Ulf themselves are equal on points with Haugesund, who sit in the relegation play-off spot just ahead of them, but sit in the drop zone due to their inferior goal difference, after they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Aalesund at Color Line Stadion. Like Haugesund, Aalesund have had a torrid season so far, and the win not only moves them out up to 13th place but also ends their five-game winless streak ahead of their clash against struggling Stabæk when the league resumes once again.

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