IFK Göteborg went from probable league champions to also-rans while Kalmar staked a claim to defending its title from last year...
By Chipp Reid .. and Helsingborg made its own bid for the Allsvenskan crown all in the space of 10 days.
Göteborg went into Round 16 holding a two-point edge over then-second-place Elfsborg. That changed when Göteborg lost for the fifth time in eight matches on the road, this time dropping a 2-1 decision to Trelleborg. Elfsborg, meanwhile, knocked off Djurgården 3-1 at Borås Arena to vault past Göteborg and take over third place.
Its stay lasted just six days. Elfsborg travelled to Kalmar Aug. 3 and the defending champions, who have not lost a match since May, bumped off the Borås side in a convincing 3-1 victory.
The win extended Kalmar’s winning streak to eight and moved the defending champions, temporarily at least, into first place in the standings. Then came Helsingborg, which played Aug. 3. A goal on either side of the half gave HIF a 2-1 win over Hammarby in Stockholm and sole possession of first place.
“We got some help from Kalmar but we also played very well and we deserved to go top,” said Helsingborg head coach Bosse Nilsson. “Any time a team wins the championship, it’s up to the team to win, but teams also need a little luck.”
Helsingborg tops the table with 34 points. Kalmar and Elfsborg are even on points with 33 but Kalmar holds second place thanks to its goal difference. Göteborg fell to fourth place after drawing at home 2-2 with BK Häcken.
Rene Makondele put Helsingborg in front after 41 minutes when scored his third goal of the season. Erik Sundin made it 2-0 in the 60th minute. Former HIF midfielder Andreas Dahl scored for Hammarby at the 65-minute mark.
Helsingborg’s victory came without star striker Henrik Larsson, who picked up an injury playing in the European League, the former UEFA Cup. HIF got a boost however, when Icelandic international Olafur Skulason returned from an injury layoff. Skulason played down the match repercussions and the absence of Larsson.
“Winning teams have to win without their star players, too,” he said. “We have a strong and deep squad. Certainly we miss Henke, but we know we can win without him.”
The top four teams have another opponent with which to contend as they look to advance in European play and the Allsvenskan: Poaching.
As the transfer deadline approached July 31, scouts galore were at Round 16 matches, played July 27-28. Most eyes were on Kalmar star Rasmus Elm, in whom which free-spending English club Manchester City has a great deal of interest. Kalmar values Elm at “Zlatan money,” or more than 80 million kronor.
Kalmar GM Johnny Petersson said he was not in contact with any teams, but according to FIFA rules, team could submit bids until July 31 then negotiate even after the transfer window closes.
“He is of course very valuable to us, but it’s also a reality that players move on,” Petersson said. “Whether Rasmus goes to another club depends on many factors. We put a value on him. How much is too much? It really all depends on what other clubs are willing to give.”
Kalmar 3, Elfsborg 1 KALMAR – David Elm outshone his brother Rasmus as he scored a goal and assist to lead Kalmar to a 3-1 win over visiting Elfsborg. The win was Kalmar’s eighth-straight and moved the defending champions temporarily into first place in the standings. David Elm struck in the 35th minute to give Kalmar a 1-0 lead. Helgi Danielsson tied the game for Elfsborg three minutes later. Rasmus Elm scored at the 61-minute mark to put Kalmar back in front as the champions began to overwhelm a tired-looked Elfsborg side. The goal was Rasmus’ ninth of the season, tying him for the league lead. David Elm then set up Abiola Dauda in the 89th minute to put the game beyond reach.
Göteborg 2, Häcken 2 GÖTEBORG – Thomas Olsson scored a last-second goal as IFK Göteborg rallied in the last five minutes from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 2-2 draw at home with Häcken. Mattias Östberg and Josef Karlsson gave Häcken its lead. Göteborg didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 85th minute with Hannes Stiller scored off a pass from Niklas Bakroth. Bakroth then set up Olsson for the 90th-minute equalizer.
Gefle 2, Djurgården 0 GÄVLE – Gävle scored early to send Djurgården to its fourth-straight loss. Alexander Gerndt set up both goals as Jonas Lanto scored five minutes into the game and Daniel Westlin tallied at the 12-minute mark.
Trelleborg 1, GAIS 0 GÖTEBORG – Trelleborg moved into seventh place, just seven points out of fourth, after defeating GAIS 1-0. Peter Abelsson scored the lone goal of the match at the 64-minute mark.
Brommapojkarna 2, Halmstad 1 BROMMA – Brommapojkarna gained some breathing room above the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Halmstad. Philip Haglund and Dalil Benyahia score in the first half to lead Bromma to the win. Emir Kujovic scored in the second for Halmstad, his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Örebro 2,. Örgryte 2 ÖREBRO – Örgryte scored every goal in the match but failed come away a winner as a second own goal forced the bottom team in the standings to settle for a 2-2 draw at Örebro. After an own goal put Örebro in front after 15 minutes, Alvaro Santos and Marcus Allbäck scored in a three minute span to give Örgryte a 2-1 lead. Goalkeeper Bengt Andersson, however, knocked in a second own goal just five minutes from time, giving Örebro the draw.
Malmö 0, AIK 0 MALMÖ – AIK remained in fifth place following a second-straight scoreless draw against Malmö, this time at the Swedbank Arena. AIK has 31 points, just three behind first-place Helsingborg.
Erik Sundin gets off a shot to score the winning goal in Helsingborg's 2-1 win over Hammarby Aug. 3 at Söderstadion in Stockholm. Bildbyran photo/Bjorn Tilly