The real Real Göteborg finally stood up.
After 21 games of underachieving and buckling under the pressure of being the preseason favorites, IFK Göteborg played like it was the league leader when it took on first-place Elfsborg Sept. 16 at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. The Blåvitt rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to knock off the Borås outfit 2-1, and for 70 minutes played the type of football its fans and players have waited all season to see.
“There was really only one team on the field in the second half,” said goalkeeper John Alvbåge. “We’ve been struggling the whole season but now we’re finally getting up to the quality level we always expected we would reach.”
Alvbåge helped turn the game around when he came up with a pair of crucial saves in the 18th minute. Already trailing 1-0, Göteborg found itself under a withering assault as Elfsborg pushed forward for a second goal. Marcus Röhden and Victor Claesson blasted point-blank shots on goal, both of which Alvbåge stopped.
“Every save is important,” Alvbåge said, “but stopping two goals gave us energy and we started to play better and better.”
Alvbåge’s saves were the catalyst Göteborg needed to get back into the match. The Blåvitt took control of the midfield, thanks to the work of Pontus Farnerud, who outdueled Elfsborg captain Anders Svensson in the center of the field.
“They started off well, but we really came to dominate the game,” Farnerud said. “I think we especially dominated in the midfield, with Sobra (Daniel Sobralense) really playing an outstanding match.”
The Brazilian helped set up the first IFK goal in the 32nd minute when he fed Emil Salmonsson who took a shot that Elfsborg goalkeeper Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard parried aside. Göteborg captain Tobias Hysen latched onto the ball and volleyed to pass Ellegaard for a 1-1 draw.
From that point on, Göteborg held sway and it appeared only a matter of time before the home side scored again. Hysen and Robin Söder had the best chances in the waning minutes of the first half but each shot just wide of the mark.
Göteborg continued its dominance in the second half, holding possession for nearly 80 percent of the final 45 minutes. Stefan Selakovic set up the seeming inevitable second goal in the 75th minute when he took a short free kick, sending the ball to Söder. The Under-21 Swedish international tried to one-time the ball on goal only to mishit it. The ball however took a fortuitous bounce, landing at Farnerud’s feet and the former Swedish international buried his shot in the net.
“I sneaked in from a position outside the penalty area and found a gap,” Farnerud said.
The Blåvitt’s control of the match was so complete that Alvbåge had no saves in the second half. Elfsborg managed just seven total shots in the game—only three on target. All of those shots came in the opening minutes of the match as the Borås side got off to a flying start.
Röhden put Elfsborg on the scoreboard after just seven minutes when he lobbed a shot over Alvbåge off a pass from Niklas Hult. Alvbåge quickly rallied and Elfsborg was unable to get anything else past the IFK net minder.
The win was a comeback of sorts for the IFK goalkeeper, who lost the starting job after the Blåvitt loss to Helsingborg July 9.
“I stayed positive and kept working and got the position back,” Alvbåge said. “This was my comeback, I guess you could say, and we played a good match and got an important win.”
Alvbåge said he, like his teammates, has changed his attitude since the start of the season, and his demotion from the first team helped bring about that change.
“We’ve stopped focusing on what has gone wrong and started looking at the positives,” he said. “I think we buckled under the pressure a lot at the start of the season. Everybody was saying we were going to walk away with the championship and the spotlight was on us and on the club and I think that pressure got to us. Now, we are just concentrating on playing our best.”
Alvbåge also said the win serves notice that even though IFK is out of the hunt for the Allsvenskan championship, Göteborg has matches remaining with title hopefuls Malmö, Häcken and AIK and could have a major say in which team lifts the Lennart Johansson trophy.
“We really wanted a win against Elfsborg,” Alvbåge said. “We don’t like the Borås club very much and it felt good to beat them. Now I think we are going to play up to our level and see what we can accomplish.”

NOTES: IFK striker Tobias Hysén left the match in the 72nd minute after picking up a knee injury. He is currently day-to-day; Elfsborg defender Andreas Klarström received a red card after he collected his second bookable offense in the 83rd minute of the match; Elfsborg striker Lasse Nilsson returned to action in the 80th minute after missing more than a month with an ankle problem; A crowd of 14,102 turned out for the match, which the teams played in a steady rain.


by Chipp Reid