Östersund, playing in their first-ever season in the Allsvenskan, played to a 1-1 draw against Hammarby in front of more than 31,000 fans at the Tele2 Arena. Östersund won promotion from the Superettan and showed no signs of nerves as it faced the Bajen. The most northern-based team in the league features goalkeeper Jamal Blackman, on loan from Chelsea, who many believe will inherit the England No. 1 position, and Montserrat international Alex Dyer.
Jönköping Södra made history if its own, knocking off Kalmar in the first Småland derby since the 1940s. Jönköping scored a 1-0 victory over its neighbors at Guldfageln, which, since it opened in 2011, has been the toughest ground for away teams to register a victory on.
Most eyes on opening day, however, were on Swedbank Arena where defending champions IFK Norrköping took on Malmö FF, the team most experts project to win the league this year. After falling behind early in the first half, Malmö rebounded in the second, scoring three times to claim a 3-1 win. The victory, however, came with controversy as Malmö took the lead on a disputed penalty kick. Both teams quickly took to Twitter and other social media outlets to dispute the call, with Peking’s squad claiming referee Stefan Johanneson allowed the crowd to sway his decision.
IFK Göteborg also enjoyed a winning premier, beating Falkenberg on the road 2-0. Tobias Hysen returned to the Angels’ fold after two years in China, scoring the second goal. BK Häcken also celebrated a successful opener as Brazilian striker Paolo de Oliveira carried his scoring streak from the Swedish Cup by notching the first goal in Hacken’s 2-1 win over Elfsborg. Djurgården opened its very public quest to at least qualify for a European spot by claiming a 2-0 away win over Örebro.
Not every contender celebrated on Opening Day. AIK in particular lamented numerous missed chances after settling for a 1-1 draw with GIF Sundsvall in front of nearly 24,000 fans at the Friends Arena in Solna. Helsingborg and Gelfe also played to a 1-1 draw.
The 2016 Allsvenskan could well be the competition in history as nearly every team embarked on a winter rebuilding program. Hammarby, for example, decided to go the Nordic route, bringing in seven players from Iceland, Norway and Denmark while Östersund, with English manager Graham Potter taking the lead, has brought in several players with experience in the lower levels of English professional football. Few teams, however, can stand with Malmö, which set a Swedish record for profit by a sports club last year and shows no signs of suddenly squandering its riches. Malmö used its deep pockets to build a team the club’s directors believe can compete and win the UEFA Champions League and can simply overwhelm domestic competition.

Results from April 2-4

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Malmö FF 3, IFK Norrköping 1
MALMÖ - A disputed penalty allowed Malmö to take the lead and eventually beat reigning Allsvenskan champions Norrköping 3-1 in front of 21,085 fans at Swedbank Arena April 2. With 14 minutes left to play and the match tied 1-1, Malmö striker and captain Markus Rosenberg cut through the IFK penalty area where he received a pass from Jo Inge Berget. Norrköping center back Andreas Johansson was immediately on Rosenberg, who fell to the turf as he tried to turn. With the raucous Malmö crowd screaming foul, referee Stefan Johannesson pointed to the penalty spot. Norrköping’s players erupted in fury at the call with replays on the big scoreboard appearing to show Rosenberg slipping on the ball rather than a tackle from Johansson. The Peking defender took to Twitter, telling fans “I never laid a hand on him.” He also questioned Johannesson’s courage in making a decision he claimed the crowd bullied the referee into making. Rosenberg, however, refuted any claims he took a dive, telling his Twitter followers, “It was a clear penalty. He obstructed then took my feet out from under me.”
Berget took the ensuing spot kick, beating Norrköping goalkeeper David Nilsson with a low blast to the left corner of the net. The goal put Malmö up 2-1 and forced to Norrköping to open what had been a very well-disciplined defensive stance to seek an equalizer. Malmö quickly took advantage of its openings and with time running out, Erdal Rakip scored to put the match out of reach of Peking.
“We played much better in the second half than in the first,” said Malmö manager Allan Kuhn. “For the first 20 minutes, Norrköping really came out and played very well. They are a very good side and they played a fantastic counter attacking style. I think we were clearly better in the second half.”
Norrköping took the lead after just 16 minutes when Cristoffer Nyman tallied. Norrköping should have doubled the lead five minutes later but net minder Johan Wiland made an acrobatic save on Arnor Traustsson. Malmö’s biggest winter acquisition, Danish international midfielder Anders Christiansen, tied the game when he notched his first Allsvenskan goal in the 44th minute.

IFK Göteborg 2, Falkenberg 0
FALKENBERG – Tobias Hysén celebrated his return from China by scoring once to lead Göteborg to a 2-0 win over Falkenberg April 3 in front of a sparse crowd of barely 5,000 at Falkenbergs IP. Mads Allbäck put IFK on top after 39 minutes when his shot ricocheted off a defender’s leg and found the net. Hysén scored in the 58th minute.

Djurgården 2, Örebro 0
ÖREBRO – Djurgården opened its 2016 campaign with a 2-0 win over Örebro April 3 at Behrn Arena. Sam Johnson scored in the 24th minute to stake DIF to a 2-1 lead. Omar Colley doubled the lead at the 55-mimute mark.

BK Häcken 2, Elfsborg 1
GÖTEBORG – BK Häcken, a favored outsider for the league title, held off a late rally from Elfsborg to claim a 2-1 win April 3 at Bravida Arena. Paolo de Oliveira, who has scored in three consecutive Cup matches, maintained his hot streak, firing Häcken in front at just five minutes. Nasiru Mohammed doubled the lead in the 68th minute. Elfsborg, entering its first season without captain and midfield general Anders Svensson since 2002, rallied late as Adam Lundqvist tallied with two minutes left to play.

Jönköping Södra 1, Kalmar 0
KALMAR – Jönköping won an Allsvenskan match for the first time in more than half a century as it beat Kalmar 1-0 at Guldfågeln Arena April 2. Jönköping last played in the Allsvenskan in 1969. Pawel Chibiki, on loan to Jonkoping from Malmö, scored the lone goal of the game in the 15th minute.

Hammarby 1, Östersunds 1
STOCKHOLM – It took 19 years, but Östersund finally played an Allsvenskan match. The most northern-based team in the Allsvenskan was second last year in the Superettan, capping a run that saw the club rise from Division Norrland to the Allsvenskan in just five years. Under guidance of British manager Graham Potter, whose wife, Rachel, is a Pilates instructor for the club, Östersunds has taken on a decidedly English flavor. Potter convinced Chelsea to loan highly regarded goalkeeper Jamal Blackman to the club and has signed several players with experience in the lower divisions of British football, including leading scorer Jamie Hopcutt and Montserrat international Alex Dyer.
Östersund opened its first Allsvenskan taking on a new-look Hammarby, which has its own dreams of a return to the top of the standings. Hammarby radically revamped its roster over the winter, scouring Scandinavia for bargains in a Billy Beane-like search for talent. Much like the Oakland A’s general manager, Hammarby found seven Icelandic, Norwegian and Danish players it brought in along with a pair of South Americans.
Norwegian midfielder Lars Saetra needed just 14 minutes to make his impact as he scored in the 14th minute. Östersund tied the game in the 35th minute as Saman Ghoddos scored off a pass from Dyer. Östersund played without Hopcutt, who broke his leg in training the day before the opener. Hopcutt is likely out for the season.

AIK 1, GIF Sundsvall 1
SOLNA – AIK was successful in very way but scoring as it thoroughly outplayed but could not defeat Sundsvall, settling for a 1-1 draw April 3 at Friends Arena. Despite long periods of dominance, AIK was unable to find a way past GIF net minder Tommy Naurin. Sundsvall grabbed a shock lead in the 42nd minute when Runar Sigurjonsson scored. AIK answered back in 43 seconds as Fredrik Bustad scored the equalizer.

Gefle FF 1, Helsingborgs FF 1
GÄVLE – Jordan Larrson, son of manager Henrik Larsson, scored his first career Allsvenskan goal as Helsingborg played to a 1-1 draw with Gelfe April 3 at Gavlesvallen. Larsson struck in the ninth minute. Gefle tied the match at the 79-minute mark as Simon Skrabb found the net.