Tippeligaen Weekly Round Up – 29/04/12

by Ben Cullimore

After a 2-1 win against Fredrikstad and a convincing 3-0 win at home to Tromsø last week, Rosenborg were looking to continue their positive unbeaten start to the season by making it three wins in a row when they travelled to the Color Line Stadion to take on Aalesund on Friday evening, a team who until last week’s 3-1 defeat away to Hønefoss were unbeaten themselves.

Rosenborg started strongly, Rade Prica putting them ahead after only eight minutes with one of the finest goals of the weekend, magnificently flicking the ball off his heel and through his legs into the back of the net. But, with only a few minutes left to play in the first half, substitute Lars Fuhre, who had come on for Ville Jalasto after only twenty-eight minutes, equalised for Aalesund, rising high and heading in backwards from a lofted in free-kick from well up the field. Tensions began to show between both sets of players, not to mention the managers, Kjetil Rekdal and Jan Jönsson getting into a slight confrontation on the touchline, and the temperature rose even higher on the pitch when Rosenborg veteran Steffen Iversen made it 2-1 to the away side with just six minutes left to play, his far-post headed effort from a corner unable to be dealt with by the Aalesund defence. Rosenborg were then offered the perfect chance to wrap up all three points when they were awarded a penalty three minutes later, Daniel Arnefjord sliding in and recklessly taking out Rade Prica in the box. Iversen stepping up to score his second of the game but firing wide of the target. And his miss proved crucial when Aalesund scored their second headed goal of the game to make it 2-2, Jonatan Tollås Nation with the all-important equaliser a minute into stoppage time. Rosenborg’s Bořek Dočkal then hit the bar with a free-kick just moments later before the final whistle finally went and further disagreements and arguments started, Kjetil Rekdal having to act as a peace mediator between his own players and the referee and his assistants, the drama then continuing into the tunnel as the visibly frustrated and disappointed players left the pitch, neither side content with having to share the points.

There was less controversy but much more joy when Strømgodset picked up their fourth win of the season away to Lillestrøm on Saturday. Lillestrøm – who after this round lie second bottom in the table without a win so far this season – pushed hard from the start, creating decent chances that they were just unable to convert, Björn Sigurðarson with a great opportunity to put the home side ahead but the young Icelander was unable to find a way past Adam Kwarasey in the Strømgodset net. The game’s only goal came after twenty five minutes, Adama Diomandé with the goal that would prove to win all three points for the away side, heading in in front of goal into the bottom left hand corner after breaking away from his marker. Lillestrøm continued to search for an equaliser after the break but were unable to muster up any serious chances, their attacking efforts never looking like they were going to materialize into anything special. Not only did the win take Strømgodset to the top of the table but it also marked the first time that the side had won at the Åråsen Stadion in fourteen years, a game that Diomandé himself remembered watching with his father and brother when he was only eight years old.

Saturday also saw a fantastic seven-goal thriller between Fredrikstad and newly promoted Sandnes Ulf with a penalty being awarded to each side. Alex Valencia put Fredrikstad ahead after seven minutes when his low and powerful shot from outside the box was unable to be dealt with by Sandnes Ulf goalkeeper Bo Andersen, before Tommy Høiland made it all square once again just two minutes later, poor Fredrikstad defending allowing the former Viking player to be set up by a beautiful through ball through the center of the defence, poking it past Jon Knudsen to make it 1-1, the goalkeeper taking down Høiland with his feet as he attempted to stop the attack. Høiland was once again caught up in the action when Kevin Durè fouled him in the penalty area, Aksel Skjølsvik stepping up and blasting the ball in from the spot to put the away side 2-1 ahead. Høiland then made it 3-1 with only twenty minutes played, firing in from close range after a scramble in the box from a Sandnes Ulf corner. The score stayed that way until half time, and five minutes after the break the Fredrikstad comeback was initiated when Etzaz Hussain grabbed their second after lovely passing and movement between him and Tarik Elyounoussi led to him slotting the ball past the left of Andersen. The second penalty of the game was then awarded quarter of an hour later, Ronny Espedal accidentally handling the ball in the penalty area. Elyounoussi then stepped up and sent Andersen the wrong way to make it 3-3, a score line that Høiland and company were not expecting when they went 3-1 up so early in the game. However, the ball was to hit the back of the net one more time and it was to prove to be a winner for Sandnes Ulf, Benjamin Dahl Hagen with the most unfortunate of deflections to put the ball into the back of his own net after Høiland – yet again – tried to place the ball past Knudsen, the goalkeeper saving well but sending the ball into the path of Hagen who’s shin unfortunately sent the ball rolling into the goal to make it 4-3 to Sandnes Ulf, ending a remarkable game and completing a fantastic win for the new boys!

Unfortunately, the other promoted side Hønefoss didn’t gift their fans with as much action as Sandnes Ulf did when they travelled to the Alfheim Stadion to take on Tromsø, neither side managing to find the back of the net in a game of few great chances. One of the best chances of the game fell to former Tromsø player Kevin Larsen midway through the first half, a fantastic ball from Arnór Adalsteinsson finding Larsen unmarked in front of goal, but his volleyed effort ricocheted off the crossbar and eventually found its way into the safe hands of Tromsø goalkeeper Marcus Sahlmann. Hønefoss were also awarded an indirect free-kick later in the half when a lofted pass back from Tromsø’s Kara Mbodji was picked up by Sahlmann on the edge of the box, but Larsen’s shot on goal from the resulting free-kick was ironically blocked by fellow ex-Tromsø player Helge Haugen and sent out for a goal kick. The ball did find the back of the net once though; Miika Koppinen using his thigh to push the ball past Hønefoss goalkeeper Steve Clark from a free-kick with just ten minutes left to play. However, the referee’s assistant flagged for offside, much to the relief of the away fans, both sides having to settle with a point each. Hønefoss remain unbeaten so far this season though after a dream start to their 2012 campaign, now lying only one point behind Tromsø in sixth place.

Two goals within the first thirty minutes secured Odd Grenland’s second win of the season and pushed them up to eleventh in the table when they beat bottom side Stabæk at the Nadderud Stadion. Stabæk’s miserable start to the season got even worse when Frode Johnsen put the away side ahead after just three minutes of play, Johnsen scoring his 100th Premier League goal after a terrible defensive mix-up between David Hanssen and goalkeeper Jan Larsen allowing the veteran to pass the ball simply into the open net in front of him. Odd Grenland then made it 2-0 twenty-seven minutes later from a free-kick twenty-five yards out, youngster Torgeir Børven curling the ball beautifully around the wall and into the corner of the net, leaving Larsen motionless and helpless in the center of the goal. As hard as Stabæk tried to try and find a way back into the game, it seemed that luck just wasn’t on their side, their cries for a handball in the area against Jone Samuelsen going unnoticed and when they did finally manage to put the ball into the back of the net, goalscorer Franck Boli was judged to be in an offside position. The 2-0 loss marks Stabæk’s fifth defeat in a row this season after only six games, and with a tough game against unbeaten Rosenborg next week, things don’t look like they’re going to be improving anytime soon.

Haugesund moved up to fourth in the table thanks to two goals at either end of the game against Viking on Saturday afternoon, Alexander Søderlund putting them ahead after four minutes and Geir Ludvig Fevang doubling the score and completing the win with ten minutes left to play. Søderlund’s early goal was the better of the two, his blasted shot from twenty-five yards out swerving through the air and past the outstretched limbs of Rune Jarstein in the Viking goal. Viking saw the majority of the possession throughout the first half though and made sure that they kept the Haugesund defence busy as they were twice forced to clear the ball off the line to deny a Viking equaliser. However, Haugesund were dangerous on the counter attack, picking apart the dangerous holes in the Viking defence, and they finally got the winner after eighty minutes, Fevang’s diving header finding its way underneath Jarstein’s body. But, despite the brilliance of his opening goal, Søderlund was visibly extremely disappointed with his miss later in the game; with a three-on-one break away by the Haugesund attack, Nikola Đurđić squared it to Søderlund in front of goal but he somehow managed to send his resulting shot over the bar from only a few feet out. Luckily, it didn’t make a difference to the final result, Haugesund claiming all three points and moving to just two points behind league leaders Strømgodset.

Saturday’s final game saw Sogndal’s incredible unbeaten run continue when they hosted reigning champions Molde, beating them 2-1 thanks to two second half goals in just three minutes, one of them an unfortunate own goal by Molde youngster Martin Linnes. Things looked positive for Molde when they went ahead first after twenty minutes through Mattias Moström’s well-placed volley at the far post, and they went into the break 1-0, full of confidence in their abilities wrap up all three points in the second half. However, it was not to be as Sogndal came out fighting, and fantastic skill on the right wing allowed Malick Mane to break through the Molde defence and send a dangerous ball across the face of the goal, a ball so dangerous that Linnes was unable to deal with it and ended up placing off his shin into the back of the net. Sogndal then made it 2-1 only moments later when Eirik Skaasheim’s cross from that ever-dangerous right hand side managed to find an unmarked Ulrik Flo in front of goal, his fantastic header sliding off the side of his head and perfectly into the corner of the goal, well out of the reach of Molde goalkeeper Espen Bugge Pettersen, wrapping up all three points for a Sogndal side that just seem to be getting better and better as the season progresses!

The last game of Round Six was played on Sunday and saw a mediocre Vålerenga travel to a poor Brann, the latter side finding themselves on the edge of the relegation zone after losing four of their first five games of the season. And the nightmare start continued for the side from Bergen as they lost their fourth game in a row, all of those four games coincidentally finishing 2-1 to their opposition. Things looked good for the home side when Kim Ojo put them ahead after twenty-two minutes though, the Nigerian attacker beautifully chipping the ball over the head of Lars Hirschfield to make it 1-0, but tensions were high and cards were aplenty, Marcus Pedersen breaking away from his marker to fire in a bullet header off the far post four minutes before half time, just before Rudolph Austin’s reckless challenge on Harmeet Singh earned him a yellow card and allowed Bojan Zajić to step up and make it 2-1 to Vålerenga before the break. Tempers remained high when the players returned to pitch, Brann defender Lars Grorud earning himself a straight red card just three minutes into the second half when he took down Pedersen in front of goal and with a clear goal scoring opportunity. Luckily for Grorud though, Singh stepped up and fired the ball over the crossbar, but, despite several decent chances from Ojo, Amin Askar and Kristoffer Barmen, Brann just couldn’t capitalize on the penalty miss and find themselves an equaliser, ending yet another game without any points, the side now on equal points with second-to-bottom side Lillestrøm and four points behind their next opponents Viking.

After Round Six, it’s Strømgodset who find themselves at the top of the table after a great start to the season that has seen them manage to be the only side to win four of their six opening games. Sogndal and Rosenborg are both one point behind them in second and third, respectively, and Sogndal will be looking to overtake Strømgodset and climb to the top of the table when the two sides face each other next Sunday. Both Haugesund and Tromsø are on eleven points in fourth and fifth and still unbeaten Hønefoss are behind them in sixth with ten points, Vålerenga behind them in seventh, equal on points. After a somewhat erratic start to the season, reigning champions Molde find themselves in eighth place, just one point in front of Sandnes Ulf who have had a spectacular start to their first ever season in the Premier League. Mediocre starts to the season find Aalesund, Odd Grenland and Viking in tenth, eleven and twelfth, respectively, all with seven points, and just one win and three defeats means that Fredrikstad are behind them in thirteenth. Things remain bleak for Brann as they sit just outside the relegation zone, equal on points with fifteenth place Lillestrøm but safe thanks a greater number of goals scored. And, just like the last three rounds, Stabæk remain bottom of the table, still without a win and with just one point after managing to hit the back of the net a measly two times in six games. With their next three games seeing them take on Rosenborg, Molde and Vålerenga, it looks like Stabæk are in real trouble already.

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