The thrill ride that is the 2009 Allsvenskan has a new face in the front car as AIK took over the top spot Aug. 17 after holding off Halmstad for a 2-1 win at Örjans vall.
By Chipp Reid
IFK Göteborg, Elfsborg, Helsingborg and Kalmar have all sat at the top in the past five weeks, with just three points first- from fifth-place. AIK, however, had apparently taken up the role of bridesmaid, watching as the top four teams played musical chairs. That ended Aug. 17 as AIK took over first place after Göteborg and Helsingborg battled to a 2-2 Aug. 16 draw while Gefle held Kalmar to a 1-1 draw Aug. 15.
“It’s good to have the lead and we’ll see how long we can keep it,” said AIK captain Nils-Erik Johansson. “We have some tough games coming.”
AIK takes on Kalmar at Råsunda Stadium, the Gnaget home field, on Aug. 22. Johansson refused to speculate whether the match would pit the reigning champions, Kalmar, against the future champions.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll see. There’s still a lot of games left to play.”
The weather was almost as a big a story in Halmstad as AIK’s win. A light rain was already falling when the match started, although it had little to do with the opening goal. Mikael Rosén scored 10 minutes into the match to give Halmstad a lead off a booming free kick. AIK tied the game two minutes later when Ivan Obolo tapped in a pass from Bojan Djordjic. Kenny Pavey put AIK in front at the 38-minute mark off a pass from Johansson, who said it was “lucky” the Englishman scored when he did.
“The first half was a little sloppy but playable,” Johansson said. “The second half was a real struggle. Both teams had to roll up their sleeves and fight. It’s too bad when this happens.”
The rain that threatened throughout the first half came down in buckets after the interval, causing a 17-minute suspension from play. Once play resumed, Halmstad threw everything it had into finding an equalizer, but the weather continued to hamper both sides. Halmstad caught a break in the 83rd minute when Jorge Ortiz picked up his second yellow card of the match, giving HBK a man advantage for the final minutes of play. AIK, however, held on for the win and its first taste of first place this season.
“Clearly it feels good, but we know we have a lot of hard work in front of us,” Johansson said. “It’s actually a bit said when this happens (the weather affecting a match). Still, I am sure the players prefer this kind of weather to playing in minus-4 degrees Celsius on the artificial turf in Umea.”
IFK Göteborg 2, Helsingborg 2
GÖTEBORG – Rene Makondele scored a pair of second-half goals as Helsingborg rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 2-2 draw with IFK Göteborg. The draw knocked Goteborg out of first place in the standings. Sebastian Eriksson and Erik Lund scored in a two-minute in the first half to put IFK on top. Makondele tallied in the 47th and 77th minutes to bring Helsingborg level. Makondele now has five goals this season. Goteborg trails first-place AIK by one point.
Kalmar 1, Gefle 1
KALMAR – The defending league champions slipped to fifth place in the standings after playing to a 1-1 draw at home with Gefle. Daniel Mendes put Kalmar on top at the 58-minute mark. Yannick Bapupa leveled the score in the 77th minute for Gefle. Kalmar trails league-leaders AIK by four points.
Elfsborg 3, Hammarby 2
STOCKHOLM – Stefan Ishizaki scored twice and Anders Svensson added a goal and an assist to lead Elfsborg to a 3-2 win Aug. 15 over Hammarby at Söderstadion. Ishizaki notched his first goal of the game in the 18th minute off a pass from Svensson, who scored himself at the 42-minute mark. Ishizaki struck again in the second half. Andreas Dahl and Rafael Leandro Magalhaes scored for Hammarby. The win allowed Elfsborg to briefly hold the top spot until AIK beat Halmstad. Elfsborg has 36 points, one behind the Gnaget.
Örebro 2, Djurgården 0
ÖREBRO – Djurgården officially fell into the relegation after a 2-0 loss Aug. 17 at Örebro. Fredrik Nordback scored four minutes into the match to give Örebro a lead it would never relinquish. Per Johansson added the second goal four minutes from time. DIF is in second-to-last place with just 14 points and it is tied with Örgryte for the most anemic offense in the league with just 11 goals in 19 matches.
Häcken 2, Malmö 1
MALMÖ – The Roland Nilsson watch began in earnest as Malmö’s season of mediocrity hit a new low in a 2-1 loss to BK Häcken at the Swedbank Arena. Nilsson, Malmö’s manager is officially on the hot seat as his team slumped to 10th in the standings. Malmö has won just six of its 19 matches this season. Paulo de Oliviera had a goal and an assist to lead Hacken to the win. Ricardo Ferreira da Silva tallied for Malmo.
GAIS 1, Örgryte 0
GÖTEBORG – GAIS climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 derby win over Örgryte. Pär Ericsson scored the lone goal as GAIS moved into the relegation playoff spot. The loss all but guaranteed Örgryte’s relegation. ÖIS has just one win this season.
Brommapojkarna 2, Trelleborg 2
BROMMA – Four different players put their names on the score sheet as Brommapojkarna and Trelleborg battled to a 2-2 draw in front of just 1,718 fans at Grimsta Stadium. Andreas Wihlborg and Andreas Drugge tallied for Trelleborg while Olof Guterstam and Pär Asp scored for Bromma.