After winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, 2013 has been a rotten year for Molde, and we’re only four games into the new season. After losing 2-1 to Viking in the opening game of the season, Molde would have expected to pick up at least a point at home to Lillestrøm in Round 2 after a two-week international break. However, it wasn’t to be; Lillestrøm dealt the reigning champions another 2-1 loss. Then, after back-to-back defeats for the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign, the prospect of picking up points away to Brann didn’t look too promising, and those that were cynical about Molde’s chances were right to be so as they lost 1-0.
And now this week Molde hosted a Sogndal side that had lost two out of their first three games of the season, whilst drawing the other. Surely Molde had to at least draw this game? Surely there wasn’t any chance that they could go a shocking four games without a single point? Sogndal went ahead after seventeen minutes through Ricardo Santos and never looked back, eventually winning 2-1 after Magnus Stamnestrø, on loan from Molde to Sogndal, doubled their lead in the eighty-sixth minute. Etzaz Hussain saved Solskjær’s side from losing without scoring at all when he pulled one back in the ninety-fifth minute, but it was only a consolation goal as Sogndal held on to pick up all three points. The alarm bells are ringing ferociously in the Molde camp and who, if anyone, has the ability to turn them off?
At the other end of the table, Aalesund are playing as brilliantly as Molde are playing terribly, and this weekend they won their fourth league game in a row to keep their 100% record intact for another week. On Sunday afternoon, they met an impressive Sarpsborg 08 side who were unbeaten after their first three games of the new season, but they didn’t have enough to beat Jan Jönsson’s men, who took all three points back west thanks to goals in either half from Abderrazak Hamdallah – his first goal since signing from Olympique Safi for a club record fee of one million euros – and Leke James.
This weekend also saw Aalesund move to the top of the table thanks to Rosenborg losing their 100% record after they were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Start on Friday evening. Tarik Elyounoussi put the hosts ahead after only eight minutes but, despite a plethora of chances, they were unable to further their lead against a resolute Start side. Espen Børufsen then capitalised on Rosenborg’s inability to score when he scored an equaliser with only three minutes of the match remaining. Start have only played three games so far this season due to their second round game against Haugesund being postponed, but the newly-promoted side have impressed and currently sit unbeaten in seventh place.
Sandnes Ulf also impressed this weekend when they pulled off a fantastic 1-0 win away to Tromsø on Sunday afternoon. The latter have had a rather slow start to the season so far, only winning once, and Sandnes Ulf capitalised on this by beating them to pick up their first win of the season, with Steinþor þorsteinsson scoring the only goal ten minutes into the second half.
Haugesund also picked up their first win of the season this weekend in similar fashion to Sandnes Ulf when they won 1-0 away to Hønefoss. They left it late, however, and the winning goal didn’t come until six minutes from the end when Christian Gytkjær scored his first goal for the club since moving from Danish club Nordsjælland. The defeat, their third so far, moves Hønefoss down to fourteenth place, equal on points with both thirteenth-place Odd and fifteenth-place Vålerenga.
Both Odd and Vålerenga were also handed their third defeats of the season this weekend, with Odd losing 1-0 to Viking and Vålerenga being comfortably defeated 3-0 at home to Strømsgodset. Veton Berisha scored Viking’s only goal in their victory, whilst over in the capital Øyvind Storflor, Jarl André Storbæk and Mohammed Keita all scored within the first sixteen minutes in a game that Vålerenga players and fans alike will want to forget as quickly as possible. The wins for Viking and Strømsgodset mean that they both stay near the top of the table, with the former in third place and the latter in fourth.