Helsingborg and Malmö continue to battle for the top spot of the Allsvenskan.

By Chipp Reid

If Malmö FF fails to catch Helsingborg in the race for the 2010 Allsvenskan championship, it may well look back at the May 15 loss to Mjällby as the reason. Since then, MFF and HIF have matched one another point for point as they slowly pull away from the remainder of the pack.
Round 17 was no different although the wins each side enjoyed were not quite the same. Malmö had to work particularly hard to claim a 1-0 win over slumping GAIS while Helsingborg needed just four minutes to erase a 1-0 deficit and knock off Brommapojkarna 3-1. Malmö manager Roland Nilsson said while he would take the points, he knows his players must improve.
“We got the three points. That’s what’s most important, but I am not happy with how we played,” Nilsson said. “We created a lot of chances to score but failed to capitalize. We can’t afford to waste so many chances.”
Malmö dominated the first half, although only Swedish Under-21 international Ivo Pekalski managed to find the net. Pekalski scored in the 22nd minute when he deflected a Wilton Figueiredo free kick past GAIS goalkeeper Dime Jankulovski. The goal was the first of the year for Pekalski, who not only celebrated scoring but being named to the full national team for its Aug. 11 tilt against Scotland. Malmö continued to pressure GAIS but failed to find the net a second time.
GAIS nearly made Malmö for squandering its opportunities when Jesper Floren fired a blast that HIF goalkeeper Johan Dahlin just managed to bat away five minutes into the second half.
“It wasn’t our best effort, but we kept pace with Helsingborg,” Nilsson said. “I have to keep telling myself that’s what is most important.”
The air around Helsingborg was slightly more upbeat as HIF spotted Bromma an early 1-0 lead before it turned on the style. Helsingborg needed 49 minutes to get into a rhythm but once it did, it scored three times in a four-minute span to maintain its hold on the top spot in the standings.
After Babis Stefanidis put BP in front just two minutes into game, Helsingborg looked more than a little shaky. As the first half wore on, however, HIF cemented its dominance. Four minutes into the second half, Helsingborg turned that dominance into goals. Rasmus Jonsson opened the gates when he struck the equalizer at the 49-minute mark. Two minutes later, Christoffer Andersson put HIF in front while two minutes after that, Ardian Gashi made the score 3-1.
Despite the seeming ease of the win, Helsingborg captain Markus Lantz said any talk of a gold medal is premature.
“This win was a clear sign of our strength, but our lead isn’t completely safe,” Lantz said. “There are many games left. The other teams will do their thing and we must do our own and continue to try to win football games.”
Helsingborg continues to hold a 5-point lead over Malmö, with Örebro quietly moving into third place, nine points back.

Helsingborg 3, Brommapojkarna 1
BROMMA – League leaders Helsingborg continued to set the pace in the standings, scoring three times in the second half to knock off Brommapojkarna 3-1 Aug. 2 at Grimsta IP. Babis Stefanidis fired Bromma in front just two minutes into the match. The lead lasted until the 49th minute, when HIF scored the first of three goals in a four-minute span. Rasmus Jonsson hit the equalizer, Christoffer Andersson scored the go-ahead goal at the 51-minute mark while Ardian Gashi made it 3-1 two minutes later.

Malmö 1, GAIS 0
MALMÖ - Ivo Pekalski gave Malmö three points it probably didn’t deserve as he scored midway through the first half to lead MFF to a 1-0 win over GAIS Aug. 1 at Swedbank Arena. Despite the win, head coach Roland Nilsson warned his players they would have to improve on a sloppy, disjointed performance if they plan to catch first-place Helsingborg.

Örebro 2, Åtvidaberg 0
ÅTVIDABERG – Bosnian striker Nordin Gerzic had a goal and assist to lead Örebro to a 2-0 win over Åtvidaberg Aug. 2 at Kopparvallen. Gerzin scored nine minutes into the match and set up Paulinho Guara at the 66-minute mark.

Elfsborg 1, Gefle 0
BORÅS – Stefan Ishizaki scored in the 24th minute and goalkeeper Ante Covic made it stand up as Elfsborg beat GAIS 1-0 Aug. 1 at Borås Arena. Covic, all but out of the squad in July, made his third straight start for Elfsborg and picked up his fifth shutout of the season. Ishizaki picked up his second goal of the season as he made just his second start of the year following knee surgery. Elfsborg moved into fourth place with the win.

Göteborg 3, Kalmar 1
GÖTEBORG – Tobias Hysén scored twice to lead Göteborg to a 3-1 over Kalmar Aug. 1 at Gamla Ullevi. Hannes Stiller also scored for Göteborg and Stefan Selakovic had two assists. Göteborg moved into ninth place with the win. Douglas da Silva Vieira scored in his debut for Kalmar late in the second half.

Häcken 3, Djurgården 0
STOCKHOLM – Djurgården slipped back near the relegation after an ugly 3-0 loss July 31 at Stockholm Stadium. All of the scoring came in the second half as DIF simply fell apart in the final 28 minutes. Jonas Henricksson, Mattias Ranégie and Paulinho all scored for Häcken.

Trelleborg 1, Halmstad 0
TRELLEBORG – Mattias Adelstam scored in the 76th minute to lead Trelleborg to a 1-0 win over Halmstad Aug 2 at Vångavallen Arena. The win was the third in a row for Trelleborg. Tom Prahl’s side has climbed from last place to 11th in the standings.

Mjällby 0, AIK 0
SÖLVESBORG – Mjallby remained winless in the second half and slipped out of the top four in the standings as it played to a scoreless draw July 31 against AIK at Strandvallen. AIK fell back into the relegation zone with the loss.