Malmö FF claimed its 16th Allsvenskan title Nov. 7 with a 2-0 win over Mjällby.
by Chipp Reid
Malmö FF didn’t need goal difference to claim the 2010 Allsvenskan, but it sure got a boost from Kalmar FF.
Malmö beat Mjällby 2-0 on goals from Jiloan Hamad and Agon Mehmeti while Kalmar held second-place Helsingborg to a scoreless draw. The results gave MFF a 2-point win over HIF in the final standings and its 21st Swedish title.
The two teams went into the final day of the season level on points. Malmö had an eight-goal advantage in the goal-difference tie breaker. Helsingborg needed Malmö to draw or lose to have a realistic shot at the title but once more Kalmar played spoiler.
The 2008 Swedish champions beat Malmö in Round 27 of the Allsvenskan, creating the logjam for first place. On November 7, the final day of the season, Kalmar did it again, this time holding Helsingborg scoreless.
HIF did everything it could to claim a win, outshooting Nanne Bergstrand’s by a whopping 16-2, but it was never enough to crack the Kalmar defense.
Hamad put Malmö on the road to the 2010 title when he scored in the 17th minute off a pass from Daniel Larsson. Just before the half, Larsson played provider again, this time feeding strike mate Agon Mehmeti. For Mehmeti, the goal was his team-best 11th of the season.
The two goals all but assured Malmö of the crown. Even if Helsingborg managed to beat Kalmar, it would have needed to score a dozen goals to claim the crown. In the end, it didn’t matter as Kalmar held Helsingborg to a draw.
Malmö finished with a season-record 67 points from 21 wins and four draws. The title is the first for the Skåne team since 2004.
“It has been a tough year but in the end, everything worked out for us,” said Malmö captain Daniel Andersson. “It feels wonderful.”
Andersson is one of two players left from the 2004 championship team along with Joseph Erlanga who sent most of the season on the disabled list.
Helsingborg manager Conny Karlsson admitted his team had a tall task going into the final day of the season.
“We needed Mjällby to somehow stop Malmö,” Andersson said. “We played very well in the first half, but once the results started to come in, we slowed down a bit in the second.”
For Malmö manager Roland Nilsson, the victory was a vindication of his rebuilding process in which he emphasized developing young players while sprinkling in a few free agents signings.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “We believed in what we were doing and now it pays off. Everyone can enjoy this.”
Nilsson also said the season-long duel between Malmö and Helsingborg ended the way he expected.
“I think what matters most is we never gave up the chase,” he said. “We always won our games after Helsingborg won theirs, which kept the pressure on them. We deserve to win the gold.”
It isn’t all doom and gloom in Helsingborg. The silver medal gives HIF an automatic spot in European play next season. Helsingborg also has a chance to grab a title as it plays Hammarby Nov. 13 in the final of the Swedish Cup.
“Right now, it feels a little bitter,” said Helsingborg manager Andersson. “But, give us a day or two. Actually, we’re pretty happy with how things went this season. Plus, we still have a title to play for.”