Helsingborg's lead in the Allsvenskan dwindled to a point as Elfsborg continued to rack up wins.
What once looked a waltz is now looking like a barroom brawl as Helsingborg, Elfsborg and AIK look set to engage in an epic fight in the second half of the 2011 Allsvenskan in the race for the Lennart Johansson trophy.
Helsingborg, in mid-June, had what looked to be a comfortable five-point lead over a number of contenders as the second- and third-place teams changed from week to week. HIF is in the midst of an 11-game unbeaten streak, good enough to stay in first but not quite good enough to put a stranglehold on the top spot.
Elfsborg, a preseason favorite, meanwhile, went on a tear beginning in Round 13 and, with its win over Djurgården, is now riding a five-game winning and six-game unbeaten streak. The 16-point run allowed Elfsborg to keep pace with Helsingborg and make up ground as ELfsborg won while HIF played to draws three times. The latest came July 23 when Helsingborg had to rally for a 2-2 draw with Malmö.
AIK, meanwhile, has come from nowhere to launch a legitimate title run, thanks mostly to the play of its pair of Sierra Leone forwards, Ibrahim and Mohamed Bangura. Though not related, the two strikers play as though they grew up together. Ibrahim leads the Allsvenskan in scoring with 15 goals and his scoring prowess has powered AIK to six consecutive victories.
Helsinborg continues to top the table with 39 points. Elfsborg is second with 38 while AIK is third with 35. GAIS is a surprising fourth with 29 points.
Defending champions Malmö slumped to ninth after the draw with Helsingborg, 13 points off the pace.
Halmstad, with just one victory in the season, remains mired in last place while Mjallby sits in the second-from-the-bottom spot. Syrianska currently holds the relegation spot.
by Chipp Reid
Elfsborg 2, Djurgården 1 BORÅS – Stefam Ishizaki had a goal and assist to help Elfsborg close within a point of first place after a 2-1 win over Djurgården July 25 at Boras Arena. Joona Toivio fired Djurgården in front after 18 minutes. Ishizaki set up Daniel Mobaeck for the equalizer in the 34th minute and scored the game winner at the 86-minute mark.
AIK 2, Kalmar 1 SOLNA - AIK ran its winning streak to six straight and moved within four points of first place with a 2-1 win over Kalmar July 24 at Råsunda Stadium. Robert Åhman Persson opened the scoring in the third minute of the game. Mohamed Bangura doubled the lead in the 35th minute when he notched his sixth of the season, this one off an assist from Ibrahim Bangura. Daniel Sobralense scored his team-high fifth goal for Kalmar in the 80th minute.
BK Häcken 2, GAIS 0 GÖTEBORG - John Chibuike had a goal and an assist to lead Häcken to a 2-0 win over GAIS in a Göteborg derby match July 24 at Rambergsvallen. Chibuike scored in the 53rd minute off a pass from Kari Arkivuo. He set up Rene Makondele Muzola for Häcken’s second goal in the 78th minute.
IFK Göteborg 3, Halmstad 1 GÖTEBORG – Tobias Hysén notched his second hat trick of the season to lead Göteborg to a 3-1 win over Halmstad July 24 at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. Hysén struck in the 16th, 38th and 56th minutes of the game. Emil Salomonsson scored a late goal for Halmstad.
Örebro 2, IFK Norrköping 0 ÖREBRO - Kushtrim Lushtaku and Robin Staf notched first-half goals to help Örebro snap a five-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over IFK Norrköping. Lushtaku tallied off a pass from Tommy Wirtanen in the 16th minute. Staf struck eight minutes later off a feed from Nordin Gerzic.
Mjällby 5, Gefle 1 SÖLVESBORG – Mjällby handed Gefle its third-straight loss, knocking off the Gavle side 5-1 July 23 at Strandvallen. Markus Ekenberg had two goals and three assists while David Löfquist had two goals and two assists to lead Mjällby to the win. Anton Dahlström also scored for MAIK. Jakob Orlov tallied for Gefle. After going more than nine matches without allowing a goal, Gefle net minder Mattias Hugosson has now allowed 13 goals in his last four matches.
Syrianska 4, Trelleborg 1 SÖDERTÄLJE – Imad Zatara had a goal and two assists to lead Syrianska to a 4-1 win over Trelleborg July 23 at Södertälje Fotbollsarena. Zatara set up the first and third goals for his team, feeding Nahir Oyal in the 8th minute and Peter Ijeh at the 26-minute mark. Rabi Elia made the score 2-0 when he tallied in the 11th minute. Thommie Persson scored in the 19th minute for Trelleborg. Zatara tallied his goal in the 55th minute.
Helsingborg 2, Malmö 2 HELSINGBORG – The second Skane derby of the season ended not in violence but in a tie as Helsingborg and Malmö battled to a 2-2 draw July 23 at Olympia Stadium. HIF took the lead after 25 minutes through Erik Sundin. Malmö rallied and scored twice before the interval as Markus Halsti and Dardan Rexhepi scored. Rasmus Jönsson scored the equalizer in the 54th minute. Alexander Gerndt receieved a straight red card in the 80th minute for a silly flagrant foul.
Tobias Hysén, center, watches as his shot flies past Halmstad goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnson for the second goal in IFK Göteborg's 3-1 win. Bildbyrån photo