With the games coming thick and fast in Tippeligaen at the moment, this week saw each side in action twice, with the 16 games played treating us to a whopping forty-four goals. This week’s action kicked on Thursday with the special and action-packed ‘May 16th Round’ and ended with five days later with eight games that helped make this year’s Tippeligaen table as close as it’s ever been!
After another humiliating defeat for Molde on Thursday – this time a 5-1 hammering at home by Haugesund – Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side bounced back and put on an admirable display to hold back and draw 0-0 with second-place Rosenborg, despite going down to 10 men after only 20 minutes when Martin Linnes was shown a straight red card, when the two sides met in Trondheim on Monday. Despite only managing to win once in the league so far this season, Solskjær will no doubt be impressed with his side’s ability to keep a side as strong as Rosenborg at bay for 70 minutes whilst being a man down, and he will also no doubt be somewhat pleased – even if he doesn’t acknowledge it publicly – with his side’s ability to only lose once (albeit heavily to Haugesund) in their last five league games. Although the 2011 and 2012 Tippeligaen champions have yet to turn the corner just yet, you can sense that they might be approaching the bend at least.
The only significant gap in the table so far this season remains at the top, and Rosenborg’s draw with Molde leaves them five points behind leaders Strømsgodset, but also extends their unbeaten run to five games and keeps them in second place for another week. Strømsgodset have now won their last three games in a row – not to mention now being unbeaten in their last nine – and did so in fine fashion when they thrashed Start 6-0 away from home on Monday afternoon. Ghanaian teenager Bismark Adjei-Boateng and 22-year-old Stefan Johansen both scored in Strømsgodset’s 3-1 win at home to Sogndal during the week and were on the score sheet yet again in Monday’s game, joining Jarl-André Storbæk, Adama Diomandé, Gustav Wikheim and Start defender Glenn Andersen, who unfortunately scored an own-goal after 38 minutes to put the visitors 4-0 ahead going into the half time break. Strømsgodset have been on fine form this season and are already beginning to pull away from the rest of the field, and if they beat third-place Aalesund when the two sides meet in Drammen on Friday evening, they could pull away even further from the main title challengers and fully assert their dominance at the top of the table as we near the season’s midpoint.
Both Aalesund and Viking sit on 20 points – just one point behind Rosenborg – after their games this week. Aalesund bounced back from their 2-0 defeat away to Brann on Thursday to beat second-to-bottom-place Odd by the same scoreline when they hosted the Skien-based side on Monday evening, thanks to a 40th minute goal from the penalty spot from Fredrik Ulvestad and a fifth goal of the season from Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdallah nine minutes into the second half. Viking, meanwhile, extended their unbeaten run to four games thanks to a 1-0 win away to local rivals Sandnes Ulf in the Rogaland derby on Tuesday evening. Local boy André Danielsen scored the game’s only goal after 54 minutes to extend Viking’s unbeaten run to four games and send them above Brann and Haugesund to fourth place in the table, two points clear of the Bergensers and three points clear of their Rogaland rivals.
Brann were unable to capitalise on their victory over Aalesund and were beaten 2-0 by Tromsø on Monday evening. After a goalless first half, former Rangers player Thomas Kind Bendiksen put the northerners 1-0 ahead after 76 minutes from the penalty spot, and Steffen Nystrøm wrapped up the win with his second goal of the season in the dying moments of the game.
Tromsø remain in seventh place following their victory and are now only one point behind Haugesund after their three-game unbeaten run was ended when they were beaten by Sogndal at Haugesund Stadion. A 69th Malick Mane penalty was the only goal of the game and moves last season’s 12th place finishers up to eighth place from 11th, just one point behind Tromsø.
In the bottom half of the table, Hønefoss beat Lillestrøm 1-0, thanks to a goal early in the second half from Mats Kaland, to send the former up to 10th place and the latter down to 12th. Lillestrøm, who were only able to draw 2-2 with Sandnes Ulf during the week, are now without a win in their last five league games and are slipping further towards the relegation zone as the weeks go on; they now sit equal on points with 13th place Start and only two points ahead of 14th place Sandnes Ulf who occupy the relegation play-off spot.
Meanwhile, after a bright start to their return to Tippeligaen, ninth-place Sarpsborg 08 are now without a win in their last three games after they drew 3-3 with 11th place Vålerenga on Tuesday evening. They valiantly came from behind three times, however, and denied Vålerenga only their fifth win of the season when French defender Jérémy Berthod scored in the 92nd minute to steal a point and deny Sarpsborg 08 from losing their third league game in a row.