This weekend saw the last round of Tippeligaen being played before the annual summer break, and there was movement at both ends of the table, as well as the solidifying of important positions in preparation for each side’s return to action for the second half of the season at the end of June.
Molde capitalised on their impressive goalless draw with Rosenborg – despite going a man down after 20 minutes – last round and picked up their second win of the campaign to finally move them off the bottom of the table. Their victory came in emphatic fashion on Saturday afternoon and showcased glimpses of the Molde of old as they hammered Hønefoss 4-0 at home. Daniel Chukwu Chima put them ahead after only 12 minutes and the hosts carried the one goal advantage into the half time break, before Magnus Wolff Eikrem doubled their lead six minutes after the restart with a wonderful long range effort. Zlatko Tripić then made it 3-0 just four minutes later and Chima wrapped up a comfortable victory with his second goal of the game five minutes after that.
The reigning champions are now equal on points with Sandnes Ulf but move ahead of them and condemn them to last place thanks to the latter side’s 3-0 defeat away to Odd. Before this weekend, the visitors were without a win in their last six games and any hopes of ending that poor run were hampered when Serbian defender Miloš Mihajlov received a red card after only 22 minutes when he pulled down Odd striker Adem Güven in the penalty area to send them down to 10 men with three-quarters of the game left to play. Sean McDermott saved Morten Fevang’s penalty but the veteran was able to calmly slot away his follow-up effort to put Odd 1-0 ahead. The scoreline stayed that way until 11 minutes into the second half when Håvard Storbæk curled the ball past McDermott to make it 2-0, and Niklas Gunnarsson made it 3-0 nine minutes later when he converted a corner with his shoulder on the goal line. The win moves Odd out of the relegation zone and up to the relegation play-off spot in 14th place, but they’re just one point ahead of both Molde and Sandnes Ulf.
Ahead of Odd, 11th place Hønefoss, 12th place Vålerenga and 13th place Start are all tied on 13 points after none of them were victorious this weekend. Start were the only one of the three sides who picked up a point thanks to their 1-1 draw with eighth-place Sogndal on Sunday afternoon, but their ability to only win one of their last five league games leaves them dangerously close to the relegation zone, especially seeing as Molde are finally finding their form.
Vålerenga lost their seventh league game of the season (the joint most of any of the Tippeligaen sides, with Odd also being defeated seven times so far in 2013) when they were beaten 2-1 by second-place Rosenborg on Friday evening. After a goalless first half, Tore Reginiussen headed Rosenborg into the lead in the 65th minute, before Jonas Svensson fired in a long range effort which beat Gudmund Kongshavn in the Vålerenga goal to put them 2-0 ahead with just six minutes left to play. Jan Lecjaks pulled one back for the Oslo side three minutes later with an equally as good goal from outside the box but it was too little, too late as Rosenborg held on to keep their second-place spot safe and out of the hands of fast-approaching Viking.
Viking kept the gap between them and Rosenborg to only one point and extended their unbeaten run to five games when they beat seventh-place Tromsø 2-1 on Sunday. They only just managed to win in the last minute, however, as Yann-Erik de Lanlay’s 25th minute opener was cancelled out by Ruben Yttergård Jenssen’s 25-yard strike after 77 minutes, and the game looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw as it drew to a close. But, Trond Olsen was on hand to snatch a last-minute winner when Tromsø goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman fumbled a shot from de Lanlay into the path of Olsen, who poked away his fifth goal of the season to send Viking into the summer break in a bronze medal winning position.
Brann moved up to fourth in the table, two points behind Viking, when they beat Sarpsborg 08 3-1 on Sunday to extend their winning streak at home to seven games. Martin Pusic opened the scoring after 20 minutes with his first goal for Brann since his move from Fredrikstad at the start of the year, and eighteen-year-old Bård Finne then doubled their lead on the stroke of half time with his second goal of the season. Martin Wiig pulled one back for Sarpsborg 08 midway through the second half but Zsolt Korcsmár reestablished Brann’s two-goal lead and completed the win when he scored with nine minutes left to play.
Sarpsborg 08, who started the season in such promising fashion, are now without a win in their last four league games and drop to 10th place after Lillestrøm ended their run of five games without a win with a 3-0 victory at home to sixth-place Haugesund. Lillestrøm started quickly and were 1-0 up after only three minutes thanks to a goal from Bjorn Helge Riise, but they weren’t able to double their lead until just after the hour mark when Fredrik Gulbrandsen scored his first goal of the season with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area. Erik Knudtzon then wrapped up a comfortable win when he weaved his way through the Haugesund defence before firing past goalkeeper Per Morten Kristiansen with two minutes left on the clock. Haugesund have now lost their last two consecutive league games and sit just two points ahead of Lillestrøm in sixth-place, as well as now only leading both seventh-place Tromsø and eighth-place Sogndal by one point.
Leaders Strømsgodset remain five points ahead of Rosenborg at the top of the table after they beat an injury-stricken Aalesund 2-1 on Friday evening to extend their winning streak to four games. Michael Barrantes put Aalesund ahead after 13 minutes but their lead would be brief as Strømsgodset fought back immediately and equalised through Adama Diomandé six minutes later. The league leaders then went on the front foot and veteran striker Péter Kovács, who had replaced Diomandé when the youngster had to leave the field two minutes after scoring due to an injury he picked up as a result of the goal, headed them into the lead with two minutes left to play in the first half. Despite Strømsgodset’s dominance in the first period, Aalesund came out ahead in the second half and exerted all of their offensive might, taking advantage of a tiring opposition in what Strømsgodset manager Ronny Deila described as “the worst second half I’ve been in in my entire life”. However, Aalesund couldn’t find an equaliser, with a combination of last-ditch defending and a plethora of goal line clearances allowing Strømsgodset to narrowly hold on to enter the break in pole position after an impressive first half of the season.