The race for the Lennart Johansson Trophy is once more a dead heat as Malmö and Helsingborg are again tied on points.
By Chipp Reid
On paper, Malmö had one hurdle left on its way to the 2010 Allsvenskan crown: an Oct. 18 date with Kalmar.
The Sky Blues had a three-point lead going into their tilt with the 2008 champions, who have been erratic at best this season. Malmö, meanwhile, was unstoppable at the Swedbank Arena, going 12-1-0 while outscoring opponents 25-6. After Kalmar, Malmö would have three games left, all against teams either at the bottom or near the bottom of the standings.
Helsingborg, sitting three points back in second place, had a much tougher road. HIF traveled to Borås Arena to take on Elfsborg, which sported the second-best home record in the league.
Combined, a Malmö win and a Helsingborg loss or tie would all but guarantee the Skåne side the Lennart Johansson trophy. Problem is, no one bothered to tell that to Kalmar.
The eastern Swedish side weathered a first half barrage of shots then scored a late goal to beat Malmö 1-0. Helsingborg, meanwhile, got a two-goal-one-assist performance from Erik Sundin en route to a 3-1 win over Elfsborg.
Malmö holds the tie-breaker with eight goals The results put Malmö and Helsingborg level on points on top of the standings although Malmö holds the tie-breaker with a better goal difference. The Sky Blues also have a slightly easier schedule in the last rounds. Malmö faces BK Häcken and last-place Brommapojkarna, both on the road, before closing out the season at home against Mjällby.
Helsingborg faces second-to-last Åtvidaberg and an inconsistent Halmstad side on the road before ending the season at home against Kalmar.
“It’s anybody’s race,” said Sundin. “We never said the race was over when we lost to Malmö (in the “super derby Sept. 15) and we won’t say it’s over now. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen.”
Should the two teams remains level on points, Malmö would win the crown thanks to scoring eight more goals (right now) than Helsingborg. The last time goal difference decided the Swedish champion was 1968, when Östers pipped Malmö and three other teams by one goal.
Sundin, however, said he doesn’t believe goal difference will decide this year’s champion.
“I think it will come out in the matches and be decided by points,” he said. “However, you should never say never.”
Helsingborg plays Åtvidaberg Oct. 24 while Malmö faces Häcken Oct. 27. HIF takes on Halmstad Oct. 31 while Malmö plays BP the next day. Both teams are in action simultaneously on Nov. 7, the last day of the season.
Örebro goalkeeper John Alvbåge pulls in a cross over Joel Johansson of GAIS during OSK’s 1-0 win Oct. 20. Bildbyrån photo