Scandinavian weekly round up

by Ben Cullimore

Scandinavia

Allsvenskan – Round 11

Malmö FF still lead the way at the top of the Allsvenskan table, but the gap between themselves and second-place Elfsborg was reduced to just three points this week as a result of their draw at home to AIK. In the end, the clash between last year’s first and second-place finishers ended 2-2, but it could have ended in defeat for the reigning champions if it was not for a ninety-fourth-minute goal scored by twenty-year-old substitute Paweł Cibicki. The youngster’s goal, only his second for the club, completed a second-half turnaround that saw the league leaders come back from 2-0 down, which keeps them three points and three goals ahead of nearest challengers Elfsborg, whom they play next weekend.

The second-place side beat ninth-place Örebro 1-0 at home on Saturday to keep the pressure firmly exerted on Malmö FF, and it also means that they remain one point ahead of third-place Kalmar, who bounced back from last week’s first defeat of the season by winning 2-0 at home to struggling Helsingborg.

The latter side remain near the foot of the table in 12th place with 11 points from their opening 11 games of the season, but luckily for them 13th-place Gefle were only able to draw this weekend. They came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Djurgården, denying the latter side the opportunity to win their first league game since the end of last month. They have now failed to win in their last five games, and fall down to eighth place as a result of the two points lost, allowing Åtvidaberg – who won 1-0 at home to 14th-place Halmstad, thanks to an 11th-minute Victor Sköld goal – to move above them and into seventh place.

Falkenberg’s impressive turnaround continues to roll on, and they have now failed to lose any of their last five league games, which is a far cry from their early season form that saw them lose four times in their opening five clashes of the year. They were unfortunately unable to wrap up a brilliant two weeks with a third consecutive victory, and instead had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to fourth-place Häcken, who went a goal ahead after only four minutes through Congolese forward René Makondele.

Meanwhile, IFK Göteborg were involved in what was arguably the most intense game of the week, despite the fact that the fiery encounter eventually ended with just a point for both sides. They drew 2-2 at home to Norrköping in a game that not only saw the visitors claw their way back from going 2-0 down after only half-an-hour, but also saw the hosts finish the game with nine men. The first player to be dismissed, Gustav Svensson, left the pitch on the stroke of half time after he struck Norrköping striker Alhaji Kamara (who would go on to score his side’s second goal early in the second half) with a nasty high boot, and with mere moments of the game left to play Norwegian defender Kjetil Wæhler received a straight red card of his own for a cynical tackle from behind on his opposite number Andreas Johansson, who was making a last-minute frantic run towards the other end of the pitch. The draw means that IFK Göteborg remain in sixth place, unbeaten in their last nine league games but with only three victories during that period, whilst Norrköping are six points behind in 11th place.

Tippeligaen – Round 11

Molde remain five points clear at the top of the table at the end of Round 11, but they were only able to draw against Haugesund this weekend, the latter of whom are still languishing near the foot of the table after a torrid start to the season. After a goalless first half, young defender Martin Linnes gave the league leaders the lead shortly after the restart with his first goal since last September, but with mere minutes left to play, Alexander Stølås equalised for Haugesund with a world-class forty-yard free-kick that will surely go down in history as not only one of the greatest goals ever scored in Tippeligaen, but in the history of football.

Luckily for Molde, nearest challengers Strømsgodset were unable to win for the second game in a row, instead having to settle for a 1-1 draw against a Rosenborg side that are in danger of slipping out of the top half of the table after failing to win in four of their last five league games. The game’s two goals (scored by Strømsgodset’s Thomas Sørum and Rosenborg’s Nicki Bille Nielsen, respectively) were scored within five minutes of one another early in the second half, and the point sees Rosenborg drop to eighth place in the table, equal on points with in-form Bodø/Glimt and struggling Viking.

The latter side had impressed for much of the early part of the season, managing to remain unbeaten until losing against Molde last week. However, this weekend saw them lose once again, this time against a Bodø/Glimt side that continue to impress on a weekly basis. The northerners, back in Tippeligaen after a four-year absence, won 3-2 against the Stavanger-based side, thanks primarily to an Anders Karlsen brace midway through the second half, and the victory moves them into the top half of the table in seventh place, just one point behind both Stabæk and Lillestrøm, after the latter thrashed the former 5-1 at home on Saturday afternoon. It was always going to be a difficult clash for Stabæk, and it was made even harder when 19-year-old goalkeeper Borger Thomas (who was making his first appearance for the club in place of regular goalkeeper Mandé Sayouba) was shown a straight red card after only four minutes had been played when he brought down Petter Vaagan Moen in front of goal. The resulting penalty kick was missed, but Lillestrøm went on to beat Stabæk’s third-choice goalkeeper Simen Omholt-Jensen five times, thanks to first-half goals from Ruben Gabrielsen, Erling Knudtzon and Moryké Fofana, and a second-half brace scored by Tommy Høiland, with the second of his goals coming just five minutes after Luc Kassi had pulled a goal back for the visitors.

Lillestrøm’s victory keeps them just one point behind fourth-place Vålerenga, who extended their unbeaten streak to six games with a relatively comfortable 3-2 win against Brann in Bergen on Sunday evening. The hosts went ahead first, however, through youngster Jonas Grønner shortly after the half-hour mark, but Vålerenga were back on level terms just three minutes later thanks to Danish defender Nicolai Høgh, and second-half goals from star striker Viðar Örn Kjartansson and 18-year-old Herman Stengel (his first goal for the club since moving from Stabæk last December) wrapped up the win for the club from the capital before 16-year-old substitute Håkon Lorentzen pulled back another consolation goal for the home side.

Brann have now lost their last three league games in a row – and have only managed to win once in their last seven – leaving them in 14th place with only eight points from a possible 33. They are now just one point ahead of both Haugesund, who lie in the relegation zone fifteenth place, and bottom-of-the-table Sandnes Ulf, who were reduced to 10 men with five minutes left to play in their game against Sogndal on Sunday before going on to concede a 93rd-minute goal scored by substitute Tim André Nilsen.

The Bergensers are also now equal on points with Aalesund, who held Sarpsborg 08 to a goalless draw at Color Line Stadion earlier that same day. Both sides have failed to win in their last four league games, and the former climb up to 13th place in the table, whilst the latter are five points ahead in 11th place, as well as being four points ahead of Start, who are sandwiched between the two clubs after they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Odd. The win, Odd’s third in a row, moves them up to an incredible third place – just one point behind reigning champions Strømsgodset – continuing their brilliant start to the season.

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