With rounds one and two already giving us plenty to talk about and even more to be excited about, spirits were high all-round when fourteen of the sixteen Tippeligaen teams kicked off round three on Monday, all looking to take advantage of their breaks of at least seven days and record wins to give them that much-needed boost in an extremely close start to the season.
Monday afternoon saw Odd Grenland (surprisingly, the only side yet to gain either a single point or score a single goal) host Lillestrøm who, after a last-minute Mikael Dorsin goal, had to settle for a point when they hosted Rosenborg in the last round at the Åråsen Stadion. Magnus Hagland’s new-look side had impressive spells in the first two games of the season, drawing both 0-0 and 2-2, respectively, and went into Monday’s match at the Skagerak Arena with confidence that they could record their first win of the season against a struggling Odd Grenland side. But, it was not to be as an all-Norwegian starting eleven home side went ahead after only twelve minutes of play, youngster Torgeir Børven heading into the corner of the net from six yards out after being set up by an off-balance Herolind Shala header from the left. The first half ended 1-0 and Lillestrøm had a fantastic opportunity to level the scores not long after the break, Odd Grenland goalkeeper Andre Hansen being forced into two desperate saves before Morten Fevang cleared off the line, the ball finally managing to find its way back into the safety of Hansen’s hands after darting around the penalty area. Lillestrøm continued to create chances but the home side completed the 2-0 victory after sixty-two minutes, great play down the right wing between Snorre Krogsgård and ex-Lillestrøm man Lars Kristian Eriksen leading to the latter smashing the ball past Sead Ramović at the near post to bag himself his first ever Premier League goal. It only took him a mere 13,561 minutes!
A crowd of 4,762 saw a six-goal thriller, including a penalty and two goals within two minutes during the last ten minutes of the game, at the Marienlyst Stadion when Strømgodset hosted Haugesund. The away side went ahead first after eighteen minutes, Serbian striker Nikola Đurđić using his stomach to score at the near post from a Joakim Nilsen free kick. After somehow managing to miss an open goal from mere yards out, Adama Diomandé made up for his error when he equalised for Strømgodset, defender Umaru Bangura failing to clear a lofted ball forward and gifting the ball at Diomandé’s feet for the ex-Hødd striker to place easily into the back of the net. But, with only two minutes to play until half time, Đurđić struck again, Martin Bjørnbak’s long-range free kick forcing Adam Kwarasey into a fantastic one-handed save, but the Strømgodset goalkeeper was unable to deal with Đurđić’s follow-up, the shot sliding between his legs and into the goal to make it 2-1 to Haugesund. Twelve minutes after the restart, the home side equalised again, referee Espen Berntsen judging that Vegard Skjerve had brought down Ola Kamara in front of goal, awarding the Haugesund player a yellow card and Strømgodset a penalty, a penalty which Kamara converted comfortably. It was almost half an hour before the crowd saw the ball hit the back of the net again and when it did it set off a frantic two minutes of action. Veteran Hungarian striker Péter Kovács scored his first goal of the season since moving back to Strømgodset from Lierse last winter and put Strømgodset ahead for the first time in the match with only six minutes to go with a great one-touch finish in front of goal, a superbly placed Øyvind Storflor cross setting him up wonderfully. With so little time left, the home side were sure that they had won their second game in a row, but it wasn’t to be as only a few moments later Tor Arne Andreassen equalised for the away side and rescued them a point, his beautifully struck half-volley from the edge of the area placed perfectly past Kwarasey and into the corner of the net.
Tromsø made it two wins and a draw and jumped to the top of the table when they beat Stabæk 3-0 on Monday evening. The away side had suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat to Fredrikstad just eight days beforehand, whilst the home side had been held to a goalless draw away to Aalesund on the Monday, and Magnus Andersen made things even worse for Stabæk when he put Tromsø ahead after nineteen minutes, finding himself unmarked in the middle of the box and heading in past Jan Larsen. A half dominated by the home side ended 2-0 when Kara Mbodji volleyed in from six yards out after Larsen parried the ball into his path. Stabæk pushed hard to find a way back in to the game but were unable to convert any of their chances, and Hans Norbye sealed the deal for Tromsø when he made it 3-0 with only fifteen minutes to go, darting from the right side of the box close to the touchline and firing in past a helpless Larsen at the near post.
Aalesund travelled to Sandnes Ulf and picked up their third draw in a row whilst the newly-promoted home side managed to secure their second after a 2-2 draw against Viking in the opening round and a 3-1 loss to Brann in the second. After a goalless first half it was Aalesund who hit the back of the net first, Daniel Arnefjord finally scoring their first goal of the season when he headed in a fantastic corner from the Costa Rican Michael Barrantes. But seventeen minutes later Sandnes Ulf found their all-important equaliser, Kosovar midfielder Anel Raskaj scoring his first goal since moving from Swedish side Halmstad in January, bundling the ball into the back of the net after Aalesund goalkeeper Sten Grytebust was unable to deal with a low cross across the goal. Sandnes Ulf travelled home the happier side knowing that they were incredibly close to going home empty-handed; Aalesund boss Kjetil Rekdal painfully aware that it certainly was a case of two points dropped and not one point gained after his side dominated from start to finish.
Sogndal completed their impressive start to the season and remained unbeaten when they managed a goalless draw against Rosenborg at the Nye Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim, also remaining the only side besides Tromsø to have not conceded a goal yet this season. In a game that Rosenborg dominated and would have been looking for all three points, the main talking point was Gustav Valsvik’s challenge on John Chibuike, the Rosenborg man seemingly through on goal before being brought down by the Sogndal defender, Rosenborg manager Jan Jönsson saying after the match that he believed the challenge could have resulted in a free kick and a red card, the referee seemingly denying Rosenborg the win. However, Valsvik stayed on the pitch and contributed to an impressive Sogndal defensive effort, both sides creating chances but unable to finish them, both having to settle with sharing the points.
New boys Hønefoss remained unbeaten in their first season back in the Tippeligaen after being relegated in 2010 when they managed a 1-1 draw at home to Fredrikstad. Fredrikstad, full of confidence after their 5-1 thrashing of Stabæk in the previous round, travelled to the Aka Arena set on picking up three points, but Hønefoss’ Kristján Sigurdsson put an end to that confidence when he put the home side ahead and scored their first goal of the season after twenty-five minutes thanks to, seemingly, standing in the way of Alexander Groven’s shot and deflecting it past a disorientated Jon Knudsen in the Fredrikstad goal. Raymond Mendy had the chance to double the home side’s lead later in the half when he found himself one-on-one with Knudsen in the box but his tame shot was saved and parried away from danger by Knudsen’s legs. Hønefoss went into the break ahead, but Fredrikstad captain Tarik Elyounoussi made it 1-1 just six minutes after the start of the second half, a great Etzaz Hussain through-ball allowing the captain to slot the ball past Steve Clark and pick up their fourth point of the season.
Monday’s last game saw a dramatic battle between last year’s champions Molde and last year’s fourth place side Brann, three goals being witnessed by 8,771 fans at the Aker Stadion, as well as an unfortunate collision between Brann’s captain Rudolph Austin and Molde’s Emmanuel Ekpo just after the hour mark which left the Brann player motionless on the floor and in need of serious medical attention on the field for four minutes. He was sent to hospital but was later released, telling reporters that he was feeling better and hoping to return to action as soon as physically possible. Molde went ahead after only nine minutes through Jo Inge Berget, Brann goalkeeper Piotr Leciejewski failing to deal with a cross and allowing Berget to head in to give the reigning champions an early lead. The guests responded strongly though, Lars Grorud poking the ball over Espen Bugge Petersen’s head five minutes later only to see the crossbar deny him the equaliser. Brann kept pushing hard for an equaliser but went into the break a goal down before Davey Angan doubled Molde’s lead seven minutes into the second half, acrobatically firing in from close range with a fantastic overhead kick that left Leciejewski standing motionless in the middle of the goal. Molde had the chance to make it 3-0 just four minutes from the end, the referee ordering a controversial penalty when Leciejewski was judged to have taken down Angan in the left hand corner of the box, but the Polish goalkeeper pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to deny substitute Zlatko Tripić from scoring. Then, with one of the final kicks off the game, new signing Amin Askar scored his third goal in as many games for Brann, firing in one of the goals of the season already from thirty yards out, the ball swerving past an outstretched Petersen and into the back of the net. But, it was too late for the away side, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side holding on to record their second win of the season and jump up to second place, equal on points with Vålerenga.
And it was Vålerenga who were in action in Tuesday night’s only game when they hosted Viking, the home side obviously with Lady Luck on their side as they managed to win 1-0 thanks to a Sigurdsson own goal after seventy-one minutes. The away side were clearly the better side throughout the first half, ending the half with nine attempted shots compared to Vålerenga’s zero. However, Mohammed Fellah’s addition in the second half made all of the difference, the twenty-two-year-old darting down the left hand side of the box before seeing his cross taking a wicked deflection off Sigurdsson and past Rune Jarstein at the near post after the goalkeeper had dropped to the floor to defend the cross that he was expecting to have to deal with. The home side held on for the next twenty minutes, gaining all three points and ending round three in second place with six points, Viking travelling home feeling desperately unlucky after their sixteen shots resulted in no goals and Vålerenga’s two shots (neither of which were on target) resulting in one. Football, eh?
After round three, Tromsø lead at the top of the table as the only team with seven points, whilst Vålerenga and Molde lie behind in second and third, respectively, with six. Fourth place Sogndal and fifth place Rosenborg remain unbeaten with two draws and a win each whilst an impressive Fredrikstad are in sixth with four points, Haugesund, Strømgodset and Viking joining them in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, with the same amount. Tenth place Aalesund and eleventh place Hønefoss also remain unbeaten but also without a win with three draws out of three, whilst Brann’s two losses and one win leaves them in a disappointing twelfth place. Odd Grenland’s first goals and points of the season sees them jump from rock bottom up to thirteenth with three points, newly-promoted Sandnes Ulf and Lillestrøm behind them in fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively, with winless Stabæk taking over at the foot of the table with just a single point from the opening three games.