AIK and IFK Göteborg picked up much-needed victories as the Allsvenskan returned to business in July.
By Chipp Reid
Defending champions AIK opened the second half of the season with a much-needed victory over second-place Malmö July 18 at Råsunda Stadium. AIK suffered through a dismal first half of the Allsvenskan season, hovering just above the relegation zone.
The Gnaget brought in new head coach Alex Miller and the Scot quickly set about restoring some discipline and confidence to the team.
“He’s a really great coach. We’ve already learned a lot,” said Kenny Pavey, who scored AIK’s opening goal against Malmö.
“I think he is what we need. He teaches a more direct style of play and right now, that’s what we need.”
The 60-year-old Scot imposed a harsh brand of discipline on his players, ordering them to keep away from the media and concentrate solely on football. So far, he has been successful as AIK advanced both in the Swedish Cup and the UEFA Champions League. Against Malmö, sports director Jens Andersson said the Gnaget played, “Definitely one of our best matches of the year.”
“Today we got really into it,” he said. “We could even have scored more goals.”
The win over Malmö was exactly the type of confidence-booster AIK needs as it looks to improve on a first half in which it won just four matches. Brazilian striker Antonio Flavio took much of the blame for the poor first half as he failed to match his gold-medal form of last season. Miller has been particularly tough on Flavio, and when the Brazilian scored in the 40th minute to put AIK up 2-0, it gave Flavio two reasons to celebrate.
“He has had it tough, but today he played a real good game,” Andersson said. “But it has not only been tough for him. It is tough for any player with a new coach.”
For Andersson, the victory July 17 eased some of the pressures the club has been under from fans tired of watching the defending champions struggle.
“Am I Relieved? I do not know. Most probably I am just happy,” he said. “You have to enjoy when you win, given the way everything swings so fast in this business.”
IFK Göteborg, the team many expected to challenge AIK for the 2010 title, also picked up a crucial victory as it hammered Halmstad 3-0. Like the Gnaget team, the Blåvitt had a dismal first half of the season. The victory July 17 moved IFK from the relegation playoff spot into 13th on the table – nothing to celebrate for the presumptive title challengers, still better than staring at possible relegation.
AIK 2, Malmö 0 SOLNA – Kenny Pavey and Antonio Flavio scored in the opening 45 minutes as AIK beat Malmö 2-0 July 17 at Råsunda Stadium. Pavey struck two minutes into the match while Flavio scored in the 40th minute, making a winner out of new head coach Alex Miller in his Allsvenskan debut. AIK goalkeeper Ivan Turina picked up the shutout in his Swedish league debut.
Göteborg 3, Halmstad 0 GÖTEBORG – IFK started its second half off on a wining note, bumping off Halmstad 3-0 July 17 at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. Tobias Hysén celebrated his return to action with a goal in the tenth minute. Gustav Svensson made it 2-0 at the 66-minute mark and Ragnar Sigurdsson made it 3-0 three minutes later.
Kalmar 2, Djurgården 0 STOCKHOLM – Kalmar picked up a valuable three points to open the second half of the season as it knocked off Djurgården 2—0 July 18 at Stockholm Stadium. Abiola Dauda staked Kalmar to a 1-0 lead after six minutes and Daniel Mendes got the capper in the 74th minute.
Trelleborg 2, Gefle 1 TRELLEBORG – Andreas Drugge had a goal and an assist as he led Trelleborg to a 2-1 win over Gefle July 18 at Vångavallen. Drugge pulled Trelleborg when he scored in the 37th minute after Jonas Lantto put Gefle in front after eight minutes. Drugge set up Fredrik Jensen five minutes after the interval for the winner. The victory was just the fourth of the season for Tom Prahl’s side.
Elfsborg 3, Örebro 3 BORÅS – In a battle of title contenders, former Liverpool prodigy Astrit Ajdarevic scored five minutes into his Allsvenskan debut to help Örebro claim a 3-3 draw with Elfsborg July 18 at Boras Arena. Ajdarevic scored in injury time to knot the game after Denni Avdic set up Stefan Ishizaki in the 84th minute for a 3-2 Elfsborg lead. Avdic had a goal and an assist in the game to raise his league-leading goals total to 13. Patrik Antonen had a goal and two assists for Örebro.
GAIS 0, Åtvidaberg 0 GÖTEBORG – Åtvidaberg moved closer to relegation following a scoreless draw July with GAIS at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. The last-place side has just 13 points.
Mjällby 0, Brommapojkarna 0 SÖLVESBORG – Mattias Asper collected his eighth shutout of the season for Mjällby as he held Brommapojkarna scoreless July 17 at Strandvallen. Bromma net minder Kristoffer Nordfeldt picked up his sixth clean sheet of the season. Nordfeldt remains the top-rated goalkeeper in the Allsvenskan with an 89-percent save percentage.