Malmö and Helsingborg locked horns for the second time this season and managed to play a full 90 minutes.
There was no repeat of the violence that marred the first match with Helsingborg and Malmö met for the second this season. This time, the game was at Olympia Stadium in Helsingborg and there was a visibly heavy security presence as HIF and Malmö played to a 2-2 draw July 23 in front of 16,500 fans.
Submachine-gun toting police patrolled the field while helicopters circled overhead. Police were also at the ready outside the stadium as no one seemed intent on allowing the type of violence that forced officials to abandon the first meeting between the two titans April 25 at Swedbank Arena in Malmö.
A steady rain also helped to keep tempers cool as Helsingborg looked to solidify its hold on first place at Malmö’s expense. The league front-runners went into the match with a 13-point lead over the defending champions, who sit in sixth place in the standings.
The heavy security and poor weather did little to dampen the festive atmosphere as arguably the two best teams in Sweden locked horns. While fans sang and cheered, both teams put on an entertaining first half while in the second, tempers flared on the field and teen star Alexander Gerndt received a straight red card for a silly flagrant foul.
At first, Helsingborg looked set to add to Malmö’s woes as Erik Sundin fired the home side in front after 25 minutes. Gerndt created the play by side-stepping around a pair of defenders and picking out Sundin with a perfectly threaded through ball.
The lone goal created a huge obstacle for the defending champions, who have scored just four goals in their last five matches. Malmö, however, responded with 20 minutes of the best football it has played all year. Markus Halsti, in his first start of the season, scored the equalizer 12 minutes off a perfect pass from Brazilian midfielder Wilton Figueiredo.
Malmö in the lead for second half Malmö took the lead seconds before the half-time whistle. Daniel Larsson won the ball in the midfield and took advantage of a pushed-forward HIF defense with a perfect pass to Dardan Rexhepi. The Sweden Under-21 international slotted the ball past Pär Hansson to put MFF up by a goal with just six seconds left to play in the half.
The second half was far less elegant, as each team tried to impose itself physically on the other. Helsingborg came out the more energetic of the two teams and found its equalizer just nine minutes into the new session.
Helsingborg defender Rachid Bouaouzan started the play when stripped Ivo Pekalski of the ball at edge of the Malmö penalty area. Bouaouzan spotted Rasmus Jönsson lurking near the penalty spot and he sent in a low, hard pass that Jönsson struck on the volley into goal.
From there on, the match turned nasty as the rain turned the pitch into a mud puddle. After a relatively easy 70 minutes, referee Jonas Eriksson handed out four yellow cards and one red in the final 20 minutes.
The red came with 10 minutes left to when Gerndt, after tangling with debutant Miljan Mutavdzic, slapped the Malmö rookie in the face. Gerndt committed his offense right in front of Eriksson, who wasted no time in sending off the Helsingborg teen.
Despite having a man-advantage, Malmö could not find a third goal and the match ended in a draw.
Although the second derby came off without a hitch – from the fans – the result was nearly the same for Malmö, which desperately needed a win over Helsingborg to retain a realistic chance of defending its title.
The first derby cost Malmo three points as a fan attacked Helsingborg goalkeeper Hansson. Officials abandoned the match and the Svenska Fotbollsförbundet awarded Helsingborg a 3-0 forfeit win. The fan who attacked Hansson later received a year in jail for assault.
By Chipp Reid
Malmö goalkeeper Dusan Melicharek dives in vain to stop a shot fron Erik Sundin during the first half of the 2-2 draw between Malmö and Helsingborg. Bildbyrån photo