With off-pitch incidents dominating the news headlines this week, this weekend’s Tippeligaen action needed to be pretty damn special to match the intensity of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that have been gracing the back pages of the newspapers in both Britain and Scandinavia. Luckily, it certainly was, this week providing us with plenty of action, as it was the third week in a row that a side had managed to fire five goals past their opponents.
The weekend started with league leaders Strømgodset attempting to remain at the top of the table after managing to steal the top spot back off Rosenborg after their 2-0 win over Tromsø during the week. And, thanks to a relatively comfortable 3-2 win away to Fredrikstad, they managed to do so, earning all three points and finishing Round 10 with an impressive 22 points. It took until the end of the first half for Strømgodset to go ahead, but once they hit the back of the net once, they managed to find it for a second time shortly after, guaranteeing a well-deserved lead when the two sides walked off the pitch for half-time. Peter Kovács’ fantastic backwards volley lobbed Fredrikstad goalkeeper Jon Knudsen to make it 1-0 before young Ghanaian Mohammed Abu doubled their lead moments before the break when he turned the ball in in front of goal. Fredrikstad pulled one back after seventy-six minutes when Strømgodset defender Alexander Aas unfortunately put the ball into the back of his own net from a Fredrikstad free kick, but Abu was on hand to further the away side’s lead once again, firing in from outside the box just three minutes later. Despite Jørgen Horn managing to reduce the deficit to one goal yet again only moments later, Fredrikstad just couldn’t muster up enough to find an equaliser, the game ending 3-2 and confirming that, for another four days at least, they would be sitting second bottom in the table.
There were only two games played on Saturday, the other seeing newly promoted side Hønefoss pull off a 1-0 win against a Vålerenga side that seem to have been relying on luck so far this season, their performances being somewhat mediocre and uninspiring. Hønefoss, on the other hand, had been fantastic, beating Rosenborg 1-0 on Wednesday evening and losing only twice. Four minutes after Simon Larsen was shown a second yellow card in five minutes, former Løv-Ham player Mats André Kaland scored his first ever Tippeligaen goal when he rose high to head in past Lars Hirschfeld in the Vålerenga goal. And that was all they needed, the side able to hold on for the next twenty minutes to earn a well deserved second win in a row and ensure their place in the top half of the table, fighting hard alongside the big boys!
Five goals from five different players ensured that Tromsø comfortably disposed of a Viking side that never looked like they had a chance, sending them up to fourth place, still just one point behind Haugesund. Remi Johansen scored his first goal of the season after twenty-six minutes with an easy header from a corner before Magnus Andersen made it 2-0 quarter of an hour later with another header, one that goalkeeper Rune Jarstein should have dealt with but was unable to stop from rolling into the back of the net underneath his body. Just four minutes later, Miika Koppinen made it 3-0 on the verge of half time when he converted from yet another corner, giving the home side full control at the break. A half hour full of Tromsø chances ended with Steffen Nystrøm breaking through the Viking defence to make it 4-0 after seventy-five minutes, Zdenek Ondrášek then making it 5-0 six minutes later when he broke through and fired past Jarstein himself. Everyone in the Alfheim Stadion knew that the game was as good as over, but Yann-Erik de Lanlay managed to soften the blow slightly when he pulled one back for the away side with just a few minutes left to play, but it was never going to be anything more than a mere consolation, Tromsø fully deserving of all three points after such a strong, merciless display.
After the incredible situation that Ole Gunnar Solskjær has found himself in after meeting with Aston Villa during the week to discuss the possibility of taking over from the recently fired Alex McLeish, you’d forgive the Molde players for seeming somewhat pre-occupied during their game away to Sandnes Ulf, but that was not the case at all, Solskjær’s boys (well, for now, at least…) putting in a strong attacking performance to win 2-0, staying in second place for a second round running. American Joshua Gatt put the away side ahead after twenty-six minutes with an easy flick in a few feet off the line. Strong goalkeeping from Bo Andersen helped keep Molde’s lead to just one goal, but a terrible defensive mistake from Edier Frejd not long after the start of the second half allowed Jo Inge Berget to break through and slot the ball past the Dane with ease to make it 2-0. Further good saves from Andersen kept the score at 2-0 until the final whistle went, the defeat being Sandnes Ulf’s first in over a month, the victory being Molde’s fourth in a row, and their third in a row where their opponents have failed to score against them.
Lillestrøm picked up their first home league win since last August when a last minute goal from wonder-kid Björn Sigurðarson grabbed them a 1-0 win against Sogndal. Sogndal, who had started the season so well, have seen themselves slip down the table in the past few weeks, the side now finding themselves in eleventh with twelve points after their fourth league defeat in a row. Since their surprise 3-0 cup loss to 3. Divisjon side Florø at the start of the month, May has been a horrendous time for Jonas Olsson’s men, his side only managing to score one goal and conceding a miserable fourteen. Although never an easy fixture, Sunday’s game against Lillestrøm would have been one that he would have been looking to pick up points in, but Sigurðarson’s low-fired shot from outside the box ended any hopes of that, the win meaning that Lillestrøm are now only two points behind Sogndal despite being nine points and twelve places behind them only a few weeks ago.
After their poor start to the season, Brann’s luck seemed to have changed over the last few weeks, the side going unbeaten in three games and managing to pull off a 5-0 thrashing of Sogndal on Wednesday evening. However, they couldn’t bring their luck with them to the Color Line Stadion when they took on Aalesund, the Tangotrøyene scoring one goal in each half to beat Brann 2-0 in a game which saw the away side go down to ten men with twenty minutes left to play, Rudolph Austin picking up his second yellow card of the game after two questionable tackles were deemed unacceptable by the referee. Aalesund’s opener came after seventeen minutes, Michael Barrantes’ long-range shot perfectly finding the left hand corner of the net, leaving seventeen-year-old stand-in goalkeeper Øystein Øvretveit standing motionless in the centre of the goal. The youngster pulled off some impressive saves though, but he was beaten once more by Estonian striker Sander Post, picking up his second goal of the season with a high-flying headed effort just after the start of the second half, confirming all three points for Kjetil Rekdal’s side and sending them up to eighth place, equal on points with both Vålerenga and Odd Grenland. Brann, on the other hand, drop to thirteenth.
It was a sad day at the Nadderud Stadion when Stabæk hosted Haugesund, the game marking the first time the side have played since Tor Marius Gromstad was found dead on Monday morning. And the sadness doesn’t look like ending anytime soon for the club as two goals from Alexander Søderlund saw Stabæk lose their eighth league game in a row, the crisis getting more and more intense as each week passes. Stabæk boss Petter Belsvik opted to start eighteen-year-old Ivorian Mande Sayouba instead of regular goalkeeper Jan Larsen, and the youngster managed to pull off some important saves but he was unable to stop Søderlund’s low free kick from twenty-five yards out eight minutes before the end of the first half. Poor defending then allowed Søderlund to pick up his second midway through the second half, lax marking leaving the striker alone in front of goal to poke the ball in past Sayouba. Stabæk, like so often before, created chances in the hope of initiating a comeback but they weren’t successful, Haugesund holding on to secure their third win in their last five games, the side now sitting in third place after being unbeaten in their last nine games, their only defeat so far this season coming against Vålerenga in the first round.
The last game of Round 10 was, unfortunately, rather eventless, especially compared to Tromsø’s 5-1 thrashing of Viking earlier in the day. Odd Grenland, who had recently turned their season around after a mediocre start, travelled to Rosenborg looking to continue their unbeaten run, the side now without a loss since mid-April. Rosenborg, on the other hand, had lost their first game of the new season against Hønefoss during the week, so they were looking to grab all three points to help keep them as close to league leaders Strømgodset as possible. Odd Grenland goalkeeper André Hansen (who had let seven goals in during last season’s meeting between the two sides at the Nye Lerkendal Stadion) pulled off a fantastic performance to earn himself, and, more importantly, his side, a much-needed clean sheet, the point gained sending Odd Grenland up to seventh place, now well clear of the relegation zone that they were dangerously close to falling into at the end of last month.
At the end of Round 10, Strømgodset remain at the top of the table with twenty-two points, Molde still in second place, just one point behind them after both sides won over the weekend. Haugesund and Tromsø move up to third and fourth place, respectively, with nineteen and eighteen points, Rosenborg moving down to fifth with seventeen points after only managing a draw against Odd Grenland. Hønefoss’ fantastic start to the season continues and they lie in sixth place at the end of the round with sixteen points, Odd Grenland now in seventh, three points behind them. Aalesund, Vålerenga and Sandnes Ulf in eighth, ninth and tenth all lie on the same amount of points as Odd Grenland, eleventh place Sogndal lying just one point behind them all after they suffered their fourth league defeat in a row. Viking lie in twelfth place with eleven points, whilst Brann and Lillestrøm are in thirteenth and fourteenth, equal on points with ten each. Fredrikstad remain in the relegation zone with six points after their fourth loss in their last five games, and Stabæk’s eighth defeat in a row means that the crisis continues, the club still rock bottom of the table with just the one point that they picked up in their opening game.