This week saw one of the most action-packed weeks of football so far as we played a bit of catch up as the season draws ever nearer to a close. Ten games spread over six days saw the ball hitting the back of the net twenty one times, and saw the already close battle towards the top of the table get even closer.
The week’s action kicked off on Wednesday evening and saw Vålerenga play host to Odd Grenland, the home side placed in the middle of the table in eighth, just one point behind fourth place Rosenborg, fifth place Haugesund, sixth place Strømgodset and seventh place Stabæk, while the visitors lay six points behind in eleventh. With the top of the table as tight as it is at the moment, every point counts, and Vålerenga knew that a win here was desperately needed, and with three league wins on the trot before the two sides met, they knew that it was a possibility. But, a seventy-first minute own goal by Freddy Dos Santos ruined their chances and gifted the on-form visitors with a well-earned 1-0 win.
Thursday saw bottom of the table Sarpsborg 08 take on sixth place Strømgodset. Like Vålerenga, Strømgodset were desperate for a win and Sarpsborg, without a point in a staggering seven games and fresh from a 6-0 defeat at home to Rosenborg, were the perfect opponents to achieve this against. But, despite a thirty-seventh minute opener, it was not to be as an Andersen own goal on the hour mark forced the two teams to share a point each. Strømgodset have been somewhat off form recently, the draw against Sarpsborg being their fourth draw in a row, not to mention the fact that they haven’t won a league game since the end of July, and with so little time left to go in the season, one can sense their chances of a finish in the top three becoming increasingly unlikely.
Third place Brann left it late to win against sixth-place Haugesund on Friday, Kim Ojo grabbing the winner with only seven minutes left on the clock. After three draws in a row, title chasers Brann will be extremely happy with this result, the win taking them six points clear of today’s rivals and putting them on equal points with second place Tromsø.
Saturday then saw another lone game on show, league leaders Molde travelling to struggling Fredrikstad who lay thirteenth in the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Molde lay six points clear of second place Tromsø and a 1-0 win thanks to a second half goal by Ivorian attacker Angan extended that lead to nine points. But, with two games in hand, Tromsø knew that they were still in the battle for the Tippeligaen title, and Sunday would be their time to prove their strength…
They played host to Strømgodset, the visitors desperately looking for at least a point after their disappointing draw to Sarpsborg only three days earlier. But, it was not to be as a comfortable and extremely on form Tromsø side replied to Molde’s 1-0 win the day before with a 2-0 win themselves, Ciss getting the opener after forty minutes and Andersen sealing the three points four minutes into injury time in the second half.
Sarpsborg were also in action again, this time away against twelfth place Aalesunds. Any confidence that they had gained from their mid-week draw against Strømgodset was quickly eradicated by Olsen and Phillips, the pair both netting a goal each to grab all three points for the home side, pushing them further away from the relegation zone and leaving Sarpsborg firmly on the bottom.
Viking, lying in eleventh place after a poor season, welcomed struggling side Sogndal to the Viking Stadion, and goals from de Lanlay and Nevland wrapped up a comfortable win for the hosts, putting them only three points behind middle-of-the-table Stabæk, while Sogndal dropped to fourteenth, right on the edge of the relegation zone.
After an up-and-down season, Odd Grenland continued their fantastic form and grabbed their third win in a row when they travelled to Stabæk, Børven, Storbæk (somewhat ironically…) and Samuelsen all helping them to a well-deserved 3-1 win. The win takes them up to ninth place, just one point behind their opponents today.
The last of Sunday’s games saw an off-form Lillestrøm entertain Vålerenga, the former having lost their last three games in a row, the latter in low spirits after a mid-week defeat at the hands of the all-powerful force that is Odd Grenland. Despite these low spirits, the visitors managed to pull off a 1-0 win thanks to a seventy-second minute goal from Håvard Nielsen. The loss meant that Lillestrøm drop to a poor tenth place while Vålerenga climb to fifth, just four points from the all-important top three places.
After a lacklustre start to the season, reigning champions Rosenborg had seemed to recently find their old magic, managing 7-0 and 6-0 wins against Odd Grenland and Sarpsborg, respectively, not to mention comfortably defeating league leaders Molde 3-1 and being unbeaten in six league matches. With the least amount of games played so far this season and three games in hand over league leaders Molde, they lay in sixth, fifteen points from the top. But, despite this wide gap, judging by their current form, it’s all but over. On Monday evening they played second-to-bottom Start and thanks to a fantastic performance by Henriksen – not to mention a seventy-third minute goal – and a hat-trick by Nigerian John Chibuike, they managed to pick up their third win on the trot, the three points gained lifting them up to fourth place, just three points behind third place Brann with two games in hand.
As we enter the final stretch of the season, it is still all to play for at the top. Rosenborg’s fantastic current form will worry Molde, who have found their wins to be less convincing as of late, especially compared to the destruction that Rosenborg have been dealing out to their opponents over the last few weeks. But, have they left it too late? Molde are still a massive twelve points ahead of Rosenborg, not to mention the fact that both Brann and Tromsø stand between them both, Tromsø now only six points behind Molde and on good form, as well as with a game in hand. Even though most fans will be betting on a Molde victory at the end of the season, I really don’t want to call it just yet. We’ll have to see what madness next week brings…