Scandinavian weekly round up

by Ben Cullimore

Scandinavia 

Allsvenskan – Round 14

Whilst Malmö FF still lead the way as we approach the midpoint of the Allsvenskan season, in-form AIK are slowly but surely crawling towards the league leaders, and this week saw the Stockholm-based side win for the third consecutive game to move up to second place in the table. The victory came at home to previous second spot occupants Kalmar, who before this weekend had only lost once this campaign but were comfortably beaten 3-0 by AIK on Saturday afternoon, thanks to second-half goals from Nabil Bahoui, Alexander Milošević and Ibrahim Moro, with the final goal being the 20-year-old Ghanaian midfielder’s first ever for the club.

AIK remain five points behind Malmö FF, who extended their unbeaten run to seven league games with an equally comfortable 3-0 win at home ninth-place Åtvidaberg, thanks to a first professional hat-trick for young talent Emil Forsberg. In stark contrast to Malmö FF, Åtvidaberg have now lost their last three league games in a row, but they have a great opportunity to redeem themselves with their next two games against bottom-of-the-table Brommapojkarna, who have only managed to pick up one win this year.

However, the league’s tail-enders cannot be completely written off, as this weekend saw them hold a top-half side to a draw for the second consecutive game. Last round, they came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home to Malmö FF, and this week they held Elfsborg to a 2-2 draw away from home, although they should have left Borås with all three points after finding themselves 2-0 ahead with 10 minutes left to play, thanks to a Henning Hauger own-goal and 68th-minute header from 20-year-old Jacob Une-Larsson, not to mention a plethora of fantastic saves by young goalkeeper Davor Blažević. However, all of their hard work was undone in the final moments of the match, as Sebastian Holmén first pulled a goal back for Elfsborg in the 80th minute before Marcus Rohdén stole a point for the hosts nine minutes later as the rain began to fall not only on Borås Arena but also on Brommapojkarna’s hopes of closing the gap between themselves and safety.

As it stands, Brommapojkarna remain four points behind Halmstad, who also sit in the relegation zone in 15th place, and five points behind Mjällby, who occupy the lone relegation play-off spot after they too had to settle for a point this weekend. Their draw came at home to Falkenberg, who left it until the 93rd minute to score their opening goal of the game, cruelly ending Mjällby’s hopes of moving above Gefle, who held 10th-place Helsingborg to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, and into 13th place in the process. As for Halmstad, they, like Brommapojkarna, found themselves 2-0 up against a top-half side with the vast majority of the game already played only to go on to draw 2-2 after IFK Göteborg’s Danish striker Lasse Vibe scored twice in 10 minutes to rescue his side a vital point that keeps them in sixth place, three points away from Kalmar, who sit in the second of the two Europa League spots. IFK Göteborg have only lost once so far this season – a record that only Malmö FF have managed to match – but are finding wins hard to come by, with last week’s thrilling 6-2 thrashing of Helsingborg being the only time that they have won in their last five league games. They now face two back-to-back clashes against Mjällby, which they will be desperate to win to help them gain some much-needed momentum in their chase for Europa League qualification.

This week’s draw means that IFK Göteborg are now sandwiched between Häcken and Djurgården, both of whom were victorious this weekend. Despite going a goal down after just a minute, Häcken won 4-1 at home to 12th-place Örebro thanks to goals from Martin Ericsson, Alexander Jeremejeff, René Makondele and Björn Anklev, whilst Djurgården, who before this weekend had not been involved in a game in which more than two goals were scored since the end of April, won 5-3 away to Norrköping in a thrilling clash at Norrköpings Idrottspark on Monday evening. After only eight minutes had been played, the back of the net had already bulged three times, with Norrköping’s young Icelandic midfielder Arnór Ingvi Traustason opening the scoring with his first goal for the club just moments after kick-off before deadly Djurgården duo Erton Fejzullahu and Amadou Jawo put their side 2-1 up with a goal each soon after.

The game calmed down somewhat until shortly after half-time when Haris Radetinac headed in a third goal for Djurgården, but Norrköping were then back on level terms soon after thanks to two quick-fire goals from Emir Kujović and Christoffer Nyman, both of which were far-post volleys. However, the goal scoring was not over just yet, and with 15 minutes to go Fejzullahu scored again to put Djurgården back in front before substitute Aleksander Prijović scored with eight minutes left to play, just six minutes after he had come on as a replacement for Jawo, to wrap up an emphatic win for the visitors that extends their unbeaten run to five league games and moves them six points clear of Norrköping.

Tippeligaen – Round 15

After clawing their way out of the Tippeligaen relegation zone with a 2-0 win away to Viking last weekend, Brann found themselves back in the drop zone this week after they were unable to build on their first league win since the middle of May. In their defence, they faced high-flying Strømsgodset, who left Bergen with a narrow 1-0 win, thanks to a 46th-minute Péter Kovács goal.

The defeat leaves Brann with 11 points from their opening 15 games of the season, one point off the bottom of the table and now two points behind Haugesund, who won this weekend to move out of the relegation zone and into the relegation play-off spot. Their victory, a 2-0 win, came at home to a poor Stabæk side that could soon be joining Brann and Haugesund on the edges of the relegation zone after failing to pick up a single point in their previous five league games. Next week’s clash at home to Brann precedes tough games against fifth-place Vålerenga, fourth-place Rosenborg, first-place Molde, third-place Odd and second-place Strømsgodset (in that order), so it is vital that Bob Bradley’s struggling side do not leave Nadderud Stadion empty-handed next Friday evening.

For now Stabæk sit in 12th place in the table with 18 points, equal on points with ninth-place Start, 10th-place Bodø/Glimt and 11th-place Sarpsborg 08. Bodø/Glimt are also in poor form at the moment, and this weekend saw them lose for the third time in their last four league games when they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Odd. As for Start and Sarpsborg 08, both sides avoided defeat, with Start winning 2-1 away to bottom-of-the-table Sandnes Ulf thanks to an early Matthías Vilhjálmsson brace, and Sarpsborg 08 drawing 0-0 against sixth-place Lillestrøm.

Start have now won three of their last four league games, a far cry from the poor form that was plaguing them at the start of the season when they were only able to pick up two wins in their opening 11 games, and the Kristiansand-based side could move into the top half of the table next weekend if they beat Bodø/Glimt on Saturday afternoon and Sogndal, who sit in eighth place after their goalless draw at home to out-of-form Viking this weekend, are beaten by Rosenborg.

At the top of the table, Molde still lead the way, and it does not look like they will be surrendering first place any time soon. This weekend saw them win for the 11th time this season when they beat thirteenth-place Aalesund 1-0 away from home on Friday evening, and the victory keeps them six points ahead of Strømsgodset. Strømsgodset remain two points in front of Odd, who moved back up to third place in the table thanks to their win against Bodø/Glimt and Rosenborg’s inability to leave Ullevaal Stadion with all three points.

It certainly looked as if they were going to after Alexander Søderlund and Tore Reginiussen both scored in the first half to give them a 2-0 half-time lead, but Vålerenga fought back and forced a sharing of the points thanks to goals from 38-year-old Morten Berre and 30-year-old Christian Grindheim, two players that had not scored a single Tippeligaen goal this season before hitting the back of the net this weekend in arguably one of the Oslo side’s most important games of the season.

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