Allsvenskan – Round 13
After a break of just over a month, Allsvenskan returned this weekend, with all 16 sides in action in one of this season’s highest scoring rounds.
Much of that was thanks to IFK Göteborg and Helsingborg, who put on a great show for the 10,000 fans inside Nya Gamla Ullevi on Sunday, as the two sides treated them to an eight-goal thriller that ended in an emphatic win for the home side. It was Helsingborg that went ahead first, however, as Mattias Lindström fired home his second goal of the season after only 13 minutes, but Lasse Vibe equalised for IFK Göteborg just three minutes later and after that they were cruising, scoring three goals in 11 minutes, which included another for Vibe, to give them a 4-1 lead going into the half-time break. Despite the impressive lead, they came out of the dressing room fighting for more, and they were awarded shortly before the hour mark when Robin Söder headed in a fifth goal. Daniel Nordmark took advantage of poor goalkeeping by Markus Sandberg to pull a goal back for Helsingborg with little under 15 minutes left to play, but it would be little consolation, as May Mahlangu, who spent five years at Helsingborg before moving to IFK Göteborg before the start of this season, inflicted further pain on his old club by scoring from the penalty spot in injury time to wrap up a IFK Göteborg’s biggest win since their 5-0 thrashing of Åtvidaberg almost three months ago. The victory means that IFK Göteborg are now unbeaten in their last 11 league games, and it moves them up to fifth place in the table, just two points behind Elfsborg, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Djurgården on Monday evening.
As for Helsingborg, their poor season continues, and they now sit in 11th place in the table with fourteen points, eight fewer than IFK Göteborg and just three more than Mjällby, the side that sit in the relegation play-off spot. Mjällby were sent down there by Gefle, who scored deep into injury time in their game against sixth-place Häcken to pick up a narrow, but well-deserved, 1-0 victory. The win is their first since the middle of April and brings an end to their torrid eight-game winless streak, whilst also moving them up to 12th place, one point behind Falkenberg, who are stuttering somewhat after their five-game unbeaten run was brought to an end by Helsingborg in Round 12. They were held to a 1-1 draw by 15th-place Halmstad on Saturday, leaving them without a win in their last three league games ahead of a must-win game away to Mjällby that precedes tough clashes against AIK and Malmö FF.
AIK now sit in third place in table after their comfortable 3-0 win away to eighth-place Åtvidaberg, thanks to goals from Martin Lorentzson, Nabil Bahoui and Henok Goitom, whilst Malmö FF still lead the way at the top, but their lead over second-place Kalmar was reduced to five points when they were held to a 1-1 draw away to bottom-of-the-table Brommapojkarna (who before this weekend were without a single point in their last five Allsvenskan games) on Sunday. Their dropping of points allowed Kalmar reduce the gap with their seventh victory of the season, a 2-1 win at home to Mjällby. Kalmar, like both Malmö FF and IFK Göteborg, have only lost once this season, but they face a tough clash against AIK next weekend, one that could give the latter side, who have not lost a league game in almost three months, the momentum to power ahead if they come away with all three points.
One of the week’s other biggest talking points alongside IFK Göteborg’s thrashing of Helsingborg was Norrköping’s game away to Örebro, in which Norrköping’s 20-year-old Sierra Leonean striker Alhaji Kamara, who had scored his fifth league goal of the season earlier in the second half, ran off the pitch screaming after receiving a second yellow card for a poor challenge two minutes into injury time. Luckily for the youngster, his side, who found themselves 2-0 down after only half-an-hour, held on to draw 2-2, leaving them in ninth place, two points ahead of Örebro.
Tippeligaen – Round 14
Tippeligaen also returned to action this weekend after a month-long break, with some of the 16 sides picking up where they left off whilst the summer holiday seemed to have a dramatic effect on one or two others.
One of those sides is Brann, who have been struggling near the foot of the table for the majority of the opening half of the season. Before the break, Rickard Norling’s side had embarked on a run of five games without a point, leaving them bottom of the table with just eight points from their opening 13 games of the season. A month away from league football seems to have done the Bergen-based side the world of good, however, as they marked Tippeligaen’s return with an impressive, not to mention much-needed, 2-0 win away to Viking, thanks to first-half goals from Jonas Grønner and Jakob Orlov. The victory, their first in two months and only their third all year, moves them off the bottom and up to 14th place, three points behind Aalesund, who have also spent most of the season thus far languishing near the relegation zone when many had predicted that they would have another good campaign after finishing in fourth place last year. They, too, marked their return to action with a much-needed win, as they beat 10th-place Stabæk, who have now lost their last four league games in a row, 2-0 to move themselves four points clear of the relegation zone.
In the relegation zone sit Haugesund and Sandnes Ulf, both of whom were beaten this weekend. Haugesund’s defeat came in arguably the weekend’s most entertaining and action-packed game, as they almost pulled off a fantastic comeback against Rosenborg, only to see their lead torn away from them thanks to three goals in seven minutes from the league giants late in the second half. After Mike Jensen and Alexander Søderlund both scored in the opening 11 minutes, it looked as if Haugesund were heading for a heavy, and, quite frankly, unsurprising, defeat, but they held on until half-time and came out for the second half with a renewed sense of urgency and optimism. Christian Gytkjær pulled a goal back for them after only six minutes before Maic Sema equalised just 11 minutes later. Gytkjær then hit the back of the net again four minutes later, and it looked as if the tide had turned and Haugesund might pull off one of the most impressive wins of the season. It was not to be, however, as Rosenborg showed their strength by scoring three goals shortly after, with Jensen, Riku Riski and Morten Gamst Pedersen all scoring to steal three points away from Haugesund whilst also extending their winning streak to three games in the process. They now lie in third place, one point ahead of previous occupants Odd, who lost one-goal leads twice in their clash at home to fifth-place Vålerenga, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
New Strømsgodset boss David Nielsen was sent crashing back down to earth when his side were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Lillestrøm in Round 13, but, like Brann, the summer break seems to have done his side some good, as, even though it was clear to see that they were not playing as well as they had done under previous manager Ronny Deila, they won 1-0 at home to Sandnes Ulf on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a 76th-minute thumping goal from Mounir Hamoud. The victory, only the second in their last five games, not only keeps them a point ahead of Rosenborg but also six behind league leaders Molde, whose impressive unbeaten run was extended to 12 games this weekend when they easily beat ninth-place Sogndal 3-0, bringing an end to the latter side’s run of six games without losing.
Sogndal’s defeat leaves them equal on points with both eighth-place Bodø/Glimt and tenth-place Stabæk after the former side lost 2-1 away from home against Sarpsborg 08, who are slowly but surely approaching the three sides after avoiding defeat in four of their last five league games. This weekend’s win was their first in over two months, however, but it moves them seven points clear of the relegation zone and leaves them on the edge of the top half of the table. It was also memorable for Bojan Zajić’s first-half goal celebration, as, after opening the scoring in the 22nd minute, the Serbian midfielder proceeded to jump into the stands and take a seat amongst the fans to join in with their applause. His side now face a potentially tough clash against Lillestrøm next weekend, although he and his teammates will have been glad to see that they were beaten 3-1 by 12th-place Start on Sunday, leaving them in sixth place, equal on points with seventh-place Viking.