The Allsvenskan is a race once more. AIK stumbled a bit in its march toward Allsvenskan gold, setting up a showdown match Nov. 1 in Göteborg.
by Chipp Reid
League leaders AIK squandered its chance to distance itself from second-place IFK Göteborg when it played to a scoreless draw with third-place Elfsborg. AIK went into the match with a three-point edge. When the final whistle sounded, AIK finished 0-0 in Borås while Göteborg, behind a pair of goals from Stefan Selakovic, beat GAIS 2-0 to close the gap to just one point.
The two teams meet Nov. 1 in the final match of the season at Gamla Ullevi, Göteborg’s home field
“We’re looking forward to a showdown match here against AIK,” Selakovic said, “but it’s just as important that we keep winning. We can’t let up.”
Each team has three matches before their season-ending clash in November. Göteborg has just one match before meeting AIK while Gnaget are home twice before travelling to Gamla Ullevi. AIK is tied with Malmö for the best road record, picking up 22 points in 13 road matches. IFK has lost in six of its 13 road matches but is 11-2-0 at home,
“All we can do is go out and do our job,” said IFK co-coach Stefan Rehn. “It’s great that we are right there at the top, but we still have a job to do before we play AIK. Anything can still happen.”
That’s also the sentiment of Elfsborg manager Magnus Haglund, who said he believes his side “is the better team” after it played to a scoreless draw with the Gnaget.
Elfsborg had the better of the few scoring opportunities in the match and the two points AIK dropped in the game put Elfsborg back in the race.
“We are four points behind with four games left,” Haglund said. “We are going to continue to fight and see what happens.”
AIK coach Michael Stahre, however, saw just as much promise from the scoreless draw in Borås as did his opponents.
“I think we played very well defensively and that is the key to our success,” Stahre said. “We are still in first place and as long we keep playing the way we can, I believe we will win the gold.”
The race is likely to come down to the Nov. 1 match at Gamla Ullevi and if the derby game Oct. 5 is any indicator, Göteborg could well have an edge.
Selakovic put Göteborg in front after 37 minutes when he scored his first goal in 14 matches. The injury-plagued striker knocked in a pass from Hannes Stiller as Göteborg outfought GAIS throughout the first half.
GAIS, however, had numerous chances to pull level in the second half. IFK goalkeeper Kim Christensen came up with three crucial saves as GAIS pushed hard for the equalizer. Selakovic did not put the game beyond reach until stoppage time when he beat GAIS goalkeeper Dime Jankulovsky to a loose ball and managed to knock it into the net.
“Maybe the game should have ended 1-1,” Rehn said, “but we got the win and to us, that is the most important thing. Now, we have to make sure we can keep on winning and then see what happens when AIK comes. I think it’s going to be exciting.”
Örgryte 4, Kalmar 2 GÖTEBORG – Defending champion Kalmar fell six point off the pace as it lost 4-2 to suddenly resurgent Örgryte. After going winless in the first half of the season, Örgryte has picked up five wins and continues to battle to leave the relegation zone. Brazilian star Alvaro Santos gave glimpses of his past as he scored twice and set up another goal. Kalmar took a 2-0 first-half lead before Kalmar finally found the net in the 59th minute. Santos, however, scored in the 67th minute to essentially seal the win.
Hammarby 1, Brommapojkarna 0 STOCKHOLM – Hammarby climbed out of the relegation zone into the playoff spot with a 1-0 win over Brommapojkarna. Simon Helg scored the lone goal of the match in the 45th minute. Hammarby holds a 2-point lead over Örgryte in the battle to avoid relegation.
Malmö 3, Örebro 0 ÖREBRO – Daniel Larsson notched a hat trick and Malmö continued its surge as it beat Örebro 3-0. Larsson struck twice in the first half and once in the second as Malmö moved into sixth place in the standings.
Gefle 1, Halmstad 0 GÄVLE – Gefle scored early then held on to claim a 1-0 win over Halmstad. Daniel Westlin accounted for all the offense in the match when he struck 98 seconds into the game.
Helsingborg 1, Häcken 0 HELSINGBORG – Henrik Larsson kept hope alive for a spot in Europe when he led Helsingborg to a 1-0 win over Häcken. Larsson scored in the 87th minute. Helsingborg is in fifth place, three points behind Kalmar for a spot in the European League, the new name for the UEFA Cup.
IFK Göteborg midfielder Jakob Johansson battles GAIS counterpart Fredrik Lundgren during Göteborg's 2-0 win Oct. 5 at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. Bildbyran photo