What does NFN do when some of the more exciting endings to matches happen in a round of the Tippeliga? That’s right, we mess it up and get a delayed report. Partially because of boring stuff like real jobs, and partially because this writer can be a lazy bastard. Oh well, you get what you pay for.
Oh, and before anyone asks: Yes, our national team had two matches recently. THey won one, lost the other, and since only our national sports tabloids really care about friendly matches like these, this writer won’t insult his readers by undeservedly hyping it up. Sure, mocking our NT can be as fun (or funnier) as talking nice about them when they do well, but that requires that I watch their games first, and this volunteer writing gig doesn’t pay me well enough for that.
Anyway, starting off on Saturday, Strømsgodset managed to turn around their late-spring collapse by beating none other than league leader Tromsø, and in the process becoming the third team this year that’s scored 2 goals on the boys from the high north. And of course Rushfeldt scored a goal as well, which puts him one goal behind the two top scorers so far this season. Whether that’s a sign of just how good Rushfeldt is, or just how imcompetent most of our other strikers are…
Either way, Sunday was Funday, and there were three matches in which the final minutes proved to be the most entertaining ones. First off was Odd Grenland, who made a veritable assault against Hønefoss, who nevertheless defended themselves valiantly (including some really classy keeper play), and only conceded one goal on Skagerak Stadium. Going into injury time, they also had one hell of an opportunity (6:32 in) to make a draw, which would in itself be a pretty nice upset. The Odd players can thank their lucky goalpost that they got away with that one, although they should have been able to put a finish to the match much sooner.Still, 1-0 means three points and a reasonably satisfying 6th place for Odd during the World Cup vacation time.
Sandefjord is still in big trouble, but that doesn’t mean they’re an easy team to beat. In fact, six teams have let in as many or more goals as they have this season, partially thanks to Espen Bugge Pettersen, who usually does his job as well as he can possibly be expected to, considering the guys he has in front of him. Anyway, Sandefjord looked like they had their second victory for the season coming, after a marvelous banana shot along the ground, courtesy of Olav Zanetti. Stabæk then looked to continue their wild unpredictability for a long time, but at least saved a little bit of face by equalising during injury time, for a 1-1 that must have felt so very bitter for Patrick Walker and his currently not-so-merry men.
But still, the best was to come. Oh, Molde, how do I love thy hilarious antics this season? Let me count the ways.
You are the only team so far to have lost against Sandefjord, but you’ve managed to turn 0-2 to a 3-2 win against Brann. You did a solid draw away against Odd Grenland, but then lost home to Tromsø, allowing them to score more goals there than they’ve done in any of their home matches this season. And now, playing against Lillestrøm, you had a truly cushy 3-0 lead, and you were already into injury time. There was just no way you could mess this up, was there?
Well, in fact, there was. Because damn if Henning Berg hadn’t managed to inject some “never give up” spirit into his players. With two corners and an opportunity created by some really fancy footwork by Edwin Eziyodawe, a nearly perfect 3-0 victory was turned into the most humiliating 3-3 draw I’ve seen for some time now. Magne Hoseth claimed to have shed a brave tear going into the dressing room after the match, but knowing Molde players, it’s more likely he bawled like a little school girl.
Speaking of bawling and whining and gnashing teeth, we were thankfully spared all of this from the loudmouthed fair weather fans of Brann. Then again, there is nothing we like more than having them make it sound like it’s the end of the world, so I guess the 2-1 victory against Aalesund deprived us of the true entertainment. At least Aalesund coach and local deity Kjetil Rekdal managed to yell at his players in a way that gave a small kick to Brann, stating that “a team staying in third place just shouldn’t lose like this to a team that’s 15th in the league”. Which is sort of true, but this general unpredictability of Tippeligaen is the main reason Aalesund’s still amongst the top dogs in the first place, even though they now dropped to 5th.
And one of the reasons they dropped to 5th is because of Vålerengen. NFN will be gracious enough to admit that when all the players are fit and motivated, they can play a pretty damn good match. And during such moments, teams like Haugesund really just haven’t got a chance. Martin Andresen’s men were pretty happy with a 5-2 humiliator. A fun game to watch for a neutral observer, of which there are practically none, since you either love or hate Vålerenga. Considering they’re scoring the most goals so far this season, maybe a few more will love them…
The much anticipated return of legendary coach Nils Arne Eggen on Rosenborg turned out to provide just about everything good, though to be fair, it brought out everything good against Kongsvinger, which only technically speaking are playing in the same league. Still, you could notice that if Rekdal is a deity in Aalesund, Eggen is far beyond that in Trondheim. Steffen Iversen in particular must’ve been scared witless, since he scored a goal after six minutes of the match. And he must’ve told the rest of the team about how it used to be with Eggen, because that was the second goal, and they’d score a third one after ten minutes. After that, the match was pretty much already decided, since Rosenborg isn’t Molde, and it slowed down somewhat. Still, Rosenborg produced more chances than they’ve normally done these last couple of seasons, and a final goal in the second half made it a 4-0 victory, and trailing close behind Tromsø. Erik Hamren can talk about “attityd” all he wants, but when the Wrath of God descends upon you (and everyone who’s been in a practice session with Nils Arne knows I’m not exagerrating here), you’d better pull out your very best performance if you want to live another day.
On Monday, Start had the good fortune to play against Viking this last match before the world cup. Why? Well, because Viking is notoriously refusing to score more than one goal. Think I’m kidding? They have only scored more than one goal three times so far this year. Against such a hopelessly inefficient (not to mention dull) offense like that, Start wouldn’t have too much to fear even without Goodson playing. On the flipside, Viking also has one of the best defenses in the country, and only once did it crack up. But once was enough for Ole Martin Årst, who snuck in like a thief to score the equalising goal, making it a 1-1 draw. Now Årst has a total of seven scored goals this season, which really isn’t bad, considering he retired last October.