Tippeligaen Weekly Round Up – Round 22

by Ben Cullimore

TippeligaenWith eight games of the 2013 season left to play, Rosenborg find themselves five points clear of second-place Strømsgodset after they won their 14th game of the season, extending their unbeaten run in the league to 16 games in the process. Their latest victory came at home to third-place Aalesund, who, before this weekend, had only lost once in their last nine games as they aimed to keep the pressure firmly on Strømsgodset, whilst also aiming to keep fast-approaching Viking and Haugesund at bay. Danes ran the show for Rosenborg, with Tobias Mikkelsen putting them ahead after 27 minutes, before Nicki Bille Nielsen cancelled out Peter Orry Larsen’s 75th-minute equaliser for Aalesund and stole all three points for the league leaders with only five minutes left to play.

Only two points had separated Rosenborg and Strømsgodset for the last five rounds, but Strømsgodset’s inability to win away to fourth-place Viking on Sunday meant that the title is now arguably Rosenborg’s to lose as we enter the final two months of the season. King Osei Gyan scored Viking’s only goal in their 1-0 victory over Strømsgodset, and the three points leave them just one behind Aalesund and a Europa League spot.

The win also moves Viking one point ahead of Haugesund, after the fifth-place side were beaten for the first time in one-and-a-half months by a team that had only tasted victory once in their previous 14 games before this weekend. That team were Sarpsborg 08, who came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 late on, thanks to a 66th-minute equaliser from Tom Erik Breive and a last-minute winner from Aaron Samuel Olanare, the 19-year-old Nigerian’s second goal for the club since his move from Vålerenga in July. Sarpsborg 08 remain bottom of the table but are now equal on points with 15th-place Hønefoss, who drew 1-1 with 13th-place Tromsø, and only five points separate them and 12th-place Sandnes Ulf, with Tromsø and 14th-place Start sandwiched in the middle with 22 points each.

Start were also victorious this weekend, and their win moves them out of the relegation zone and into the relegation play-off spot. They won in fine fashion, mercilessly thrashing Sandnes Ulf 7-0 at home on Sunday afternoon, with Icelandic forward Matthías Vilhjálmsson scoring a hat-trick, and Rolf Daniel Vikstøl, Ernest Asante, Espen Hoff, and Bismark Acosta all joining him on the score sheet. The win is the biggest win of the season so far, and is the biggest Tippeligaen win since Rosenborg beat Odd by the same scoreline over two years ago. After winning twice on the bounce, Sandnes Ulf have now lost their last two league games, and they face an important clash against Sarpsborg 08 when the league resumes after the international break in two weeks’ time.

Odd remain just one point ahead of Sandnes Ulf in 11th-place after they also suffered their second defeat in a row, losing 1-0 to Lillestrøm in a game that saw them reduced to 10 men after only half-an-hour when Frode Kippe was shown a red card, just 10 minutes before youngster Fredrik Oldrup Jensen put the ball into the back of his own net to score the only goal of the game.

The win moves Lillestrøm ahead of Odd and into ninth-place, equal on points with Molde who also overtook Odd after they comfortably beat 10th-place Vålerenga 4-0 at home on Sunday. The reigning champions were 3-0 up after only 25 minutes, thanks to a brace from Fredrik Gulbrandsen and a sixth league goal of the season for Jo Inge Berget, before Martin Linnes wrapped up Molde’s third win in their last five league games with five minutes left to play.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side end Round 22 in the top half of the table in eighth place, with seventh-place Sogndal just one point ahead of them after they were beaten 1-0 by Brann. Martin Pusic – who has now scored four times in his last three games – scored the only goal of the game after six minutes, and the win moves Brann four points clear of Sogndal in sixth place.

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