Tippeligaen Weekly Round Up – Round 21

by Ben Cullimore

Tippeligaen 2012The gap between league leaders Rosenborg and second-place Strømsgodset remains just two points for a fifth consecutive week, with both sides winning their games this weekend after drawing their previous two clashes. Both faced opposition from the bottom half of the table, with Strømsgodset hosting Molde, who were unbeaten in their last three games before this weekend, and Rosenborg travelling to Sandnes Ulf, who had won five of their previous six league games after embarking on an impressive midseason turnaround.

In Drammen, Strømsgodset beat the struggling reigning champions 5-2 in a game that saw six different players get on the score sheet. Ola Kamara got the hosts off to a flying start when he fired them in front after only 10 minutes, before Fredrik Gulbrandsen equalised for Molde shortly after the half-hour mark with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area. Strømsgodset went ahead again shortly before the half-time break, however, thanks to a second goal of the month for Jarl André Storbæk, but the visitors equalised once more six minutes after the restart through a looping Martin Linnes header after he found himself on the end of a great lofted pass by Emmanuel Ekpo. That would be the last time that the scores were level, and substitute Monuir Hamoud kick-started a second-half of Strømsgodset dominance when he scored just before the hour mark to put the hosts back in the lead, before Øyvind Storflor made it 4-2 three minutes later, and Ola Kamara wrapped up the win from the penalty spot with nine minutes left to play. Strømsgodset are now unbeaten at home in their last 34 league games, with their last defeat at Marienlyst Stadion coming against this weekend’s opponents in June 2011.

As for Rosenborg, they had to embark on a late comeback to leave Sandnes Idrettspark with all three points. It looked as if the league leaders might have to travel back to Trondheim without a single point after a 31st-minute successful penalty from Aksel Skjølsvik and a 69th-minute goal from Kenneth Sola cancelled out Alexander Søderlund’s first-minute opener, but two goals in the last 10 minutes from Tore Reginiussen and Pål André Helland (his first goal since re-signing for the club from last season’s Norwegian Cup winners Hødd) ensured that Rosenborg beat Sandnes Ulf to remain with a two point advantage over Strømsgodset for another week.

After closing the gap to three points last weekend, Aalesund are now five points behind Strømsgodset in third place after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by second-to-bottom-place Start on Sunday afternoon. Both goals came in the latter part of the game, with Michael Barrantes opening the scoring after 73 minutes before newly signed Finnish midfielder Markus Heikkinen equalised for the strugglers four minutes later with his first goal in his first full appearance for the club.

The gap between Aalesund and Haugesund has also shortened after the latter took advantage of Viking’s 1-0 defeat to Sogndal on Saturday to move above them and into fourth place with their fourth consecutive league victory. They did so at home to thirteenth-place Tromsø, with Dušan Cvetinović scoring the only goal of the game (his second in his first five games for the club) late in the second half. Haugesund are now unbeaten in their last five league games, whilst Tromsø have failed to win in their last eight, with six of those – including their last three in a row – ending in defeat.

The club from the Artic Circle remain in deep trouble near the bottom of the table, and only two points now separate them from the dreaded drop zone after Hønefoss came out on top against fellow strugglers Sarpsborg 08 in a game that was vitally important for both sides to win. They beat them 3-1, with all three goals coming in the second half to cancel out Martin Wiig’s 11th-minute opener, and two of the three coming in the last three minutes to deny Sarpsborg 08 their first point since June 22nd and stealing Hønefoss their first victory since mid-May.

The victory also sees Hønefoss finish the weekend outside of the relegation zone in 14th place, albeit equal on points with 15th-place Start and only ahead of them on goal difference by one goal. Both  are in action against sides that are near to them in the table next weekend, with Hønefoss travelling to the icy north to face Tromsø and Start hosting Sandnes Ulf.

Sandnes Ulf sit four points ahead of Tromsø in 12th place with 25 points, equal on points with both 10th-place Molde and 11th-place Lillestrøm after the latter picked up their fourth consecutive draw in the league against Vålerenga this weekend. The draw was Vålerenga’s third in their last four games, and leaves them just two points ahead in eighth place, one point ahead of Odd who were beaten for the first time in over a month when their clash at home to sixth-place Brann ended 3-1 to the Bergensers. Frode Johnsen showed great control and technique when he half-volleyed Odd into the lead after only five minutes, but Martin Pusic equalised 20 minutes later with a header from close range. The scores stayed level at 1-1 until seven minutes before full-time when youngster Kristoffer Barmen’s volleyed shot put Brann ahead, and gave him his first goal of the season, and Pusic scored again two minutes into injury time to wrap up Brann’s first away win of the season after only managing to draw twice in their previous 10 games away from Brann Stadion this campaign.

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