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Friday, 30 September 2011

Scandinavian spotlight: Helsingborgs Secure Swedish Title, Slip-ups and World Records in Norway

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Party time! That was the order of the day when Helsingborgs returned to their Olympia Stadium on Sunday night after securing their seventh Swedish championship.

Following a 3-1 victory away to GAIS the players and officials erupted in celebration on their coach journey back home as local rivals and arch enemies Malmø scored an injury time equaliser against AIK Stockholm in the later kick-off.  That 1-1 result left Helsingborgs 10 points clear with only three remaining and ensured the party would go on long into the night.

The stadium was immediately opened to allow fans in to greet the team on their return and thousands more gathered outside the Grand Hotel area of the city where players later had to appeal for calm as the 'cellies' got a bit out of hand.  A few arrests were made for drunkenness, but it was generally good-natured as fans toasted their club's first title success in 12 years.

The other title challengers Elfsborg had suffered a blow to their hopes on Saturday as they travelled to lowly Mjallby fully expecting to prolong their challenge. A shock 2-1 defeat left them hoping for a mistake from the leaders, but it wasn't to be and their hopes evaporated.

While there was a knees-up in Helsingborg it seems nobody in Norway wants to win the league. Leaders Molde got things going on Friday when they hosted Viking but a dismal display from both teams led to a boring 0-0 draw after 90 tedious minutes. The only excitement lay in the fact that two dropped points gave the chasing pack an opportunity to close the gap.

Nearest rivals Tromsø travelled to Odd Grenland where the hosts scored all four goals in a 3-1 victory. Morten Fevang put through his own net in 15 minutes to give Tromsø the lead but Håvard Storbæk equalised in 27 and Fevang made amends by netting from the spot early in the second half. The scoring was rounded off in the final minute with a goal which has led to a nomination for recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records. Seriously!

Tromsø 'keeper Marcus Sahlman sprinted upfield for a corner which was cleared by a defender. The ball was headed back by a Tromsø player straight to Jone Samuelsen who headed it into the net from his own half. The officially measured distance was 57.3m (188ft)!

Elsewhere Brann's 1-0 defeat at Sogndal was overshadowed by Carl-Erik Torp's heart attack as he collapsed on the field in the closing stages. The 27-year-old Brann midfielder was given CPR on the pitch before being airlifted to hospital back in Bergen. He was subsequently declared to be in a stable condition but as yet the underlying cause has not been established and his career is probably over.

Third placed Rosenborg also slipped up on Sunday losing 1-0 to Vålerenga in front of an excellent crowd of 18,262 thanks to Andre Muri's 35th minute header. A fiercely fought but entertaining contest saw the referee dish out six yellows and one red. This hauls the Oslo club up to fifth while Rosenborg remain in third.

Tromsø played their game in hand on Thursday with a visit to Ålesund where a 1-0 loss wasn't exactly the ideal preparation for Sunday's hugely important match when Molde come to town. A share of the spoils could be a boost for Rosenborg and outsiders Brann though so it's still all to play for.

The weekend's events in Denmark really just encapsulated what I have been saying for the last couple of weeks. Brøndby lost and Copenhagen won as usual, but this time they were playing each other in the season's first 'new firm' derby. An open and entertaining game saw both sides create chances and both 'keepers make some good saves before Brøndby took the lead. A corner from the right was fumbled by goalie Johan Wiland and the ball fell to Thygesen who fired home from 12 yards.

Brøndby continued to press after the break and hit the bar in 49 minutes and forced an amazing double save from Wiland in 56 which seemed to spur Copenhagen on. Three minutes later Dame N'Doye collected the ball and waltzed past the centre-backs before firing in from 22 yards. Both sides pressed for the winner and it came in the last minute of normal time when a ball across goal from the left was thumped in from five yards by Santin.

Odense fell to their second straight defeat - a 4-1 trouncing at home to Midtjylland. Aalborg too had a second consecutive loss, dropping three points at home against Lyngby while Horsens could only draw 1-1 at Silkeborg. 10 points clear after 10 games, yet again Copenhagen stretch their lead while the others keep taking points off each other.

All eyes in Denmark turned to the Europa League games on Thursday which saw OB Odense take on Fulham at TRE-FOR Park and FCK travel to Belgium to take on Standard Liege. Having both won their first matches, against Wisla Krakow and Vorskla Poltava respectively, they were looking to build on that opening day success in groups which aren't the toughest but which will be difficult to negotiate nonetheless.

Odense will have been disappointed not to take something from the game against the Londoners despite playing well. Copenhagen were upset at having a goal disallowed against Standard for offside in the first half, but an attacker was in an offside position directly in front of the keeper so it was a correct decision. 12 minutes into the second half Standard took the lead with a 20 yard shot from Seijas and doubled it in the 72nd through Felipe. Kanu completed the night for Standard with a headed third in 79.

Just to round off a miserable night for the Scandinavian contingent Malmø were beaten at home 2-1 by Austria Vienna for a second straight defeat which will severely dent their hopes of progressing.

Not a good night to round off the week's action but congratulations to Helsingborgs and good luck to Carl-Erik Torp for a full and speedy recovery.

Article by Iain Macfadzean

Related Articles:

Can Molde hold on to the dream?

Title beckons in Norway and Sweden

Happy days for the Danes

Can Norway see off their main rivals?

How do the small clubs survive

It's all hotting up in the north

Will Europe throw up any major shocks this season?



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Colin Illingworth



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