DAVID SMITH - Friday, April 22, 2011
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg pulled off a crucial road win at Fyn while Clarence Goodson was on-target for Brøndby in their win against visiting relegation candidates Esbjerg.
Brøndby IF 3 - 0 Esbjerg fB
Clarence Goodson made his return to Brøndby's starting lineup in style, heading in the ultimate winning goal late in the first half as the team cruised past Esbjerg on Thursday afternoon.
The American marked his first start since breaking his toe back in March by wearing the captain's armband for the game, and cemented his place in the starting lineup of the team as they enter the final weeks of the season.
Brøndby were firmly in control during most of the first half, but had problems to break through the stout Esbjerg defense. As a result, it was not entirely an unexpected route to the opening goal when a 43rd-minute corner kick into the Esbjerg area was headed just inside the upper corner by Goodson, giving Brøndby the halftime lead.
After Kevin Conboy blew a perfect chance for Esbjerg just after the restart, Brøndby were quick to make their hosts regret their wastefulness as Daniel Wass fed a ball into the area to Mike Jensen, who fired his low shot to the far corner, out of keeper Peter Nyman's reach.
They added a third two minutes past the hour mark in an unexpected fashion, as a goal kick by Stephan Andersen sailed over the defense and landed into the path of the onrushing Nicolaj Agger, who lifted his shot over Nyman for 3-0.
The win brings Brøndby back to within two points of second-place Odense, who have faltered as of late, in the race for Denmark's second Champions League spot. They have a four-day break before they are back in action, hitting the road on Monday evening to visit downtrodden Randers.
FC Fyn 1 - 2 Viborg FF
Babajide Ogunbiyi occupied his usual post in Viborg's central defense on Thursday, playing the full 90 minutes as a pair of goals from Jesper Kjærulff gave them the win over Fyn and pulled them out of the drop zone.
With only one point separating the two teams and both locked in a multi-team struggle at the bottom of the standings, heavy pressure was heaped on both squads to take the three points.
A fast start with both teams on the offensive in the early minutes quickly died down to a lull, with much of the play confined to uneventful midfield battles.
This made it all the more surprising when Viborg jumped into the lead in the 36th minute after Fyn defender Ole Budtz botched a clearance out of his own box, accidentally kicking it directly at Ogunbiyi, forcing a penalty on the big American as he headed towards goal.
Jesper Kjærulff stepped up to the spot and buried his shot against his former team, putting the Greens in the lead.
The hosts equalized just moments before the half, after a corner kick into Viborg's penalty area was poorly cleared by the defense, allowing Emil La Cour to nail a long-range shot past keeper Kristian Kirk.
The second half saw Viborg having more control of the run of play, although Fyn still remained a regular threat on their frequent counters.
The visitors were able to re-gain the lead midway through the half, after the Fyn defense allowed a fine cross to come in from the right side, which Kjærulff headed into goal for the 2-1 advantage.
The hosts had the perfect opportunity to once again pull even with eight minutes on the clock when Sune Kiilerich collided with Pelle Weber in the area, with a red card being awarded to the Viborg player and a penalty to Fyn.
The opportunity was wasted, however, as Mads Overgaard hit his attempt too softly, allowing Kirk to dive towards the right post for the clutch save, securing the win for Viborg.
With the victory, Viborg climb to 13th place in the 1. Division standings, one point out of the bottom three. They return home on Monday evening to host 12th-place Naestved in yet another crucial game for their season.
Chris Rolfe was an unused substitute on Aalborg's bench on Wednesday evening as they pulled to within reach of safety with a 4-1 thrashing of Randers FC. The win leaves them one point in the drop zone. Marcus Tracy is out for the remainder of the season with knee problems and did not suit up for the hosts.
Michael Parkhurst is still recovering from a leg injury and was not a part of the Nordsjaelland squad which pulled off a 2-1 upset on the road over Odense on Thursday afternoon. The win lifted them three points clear of the drop zone.
New Hjørring signing Euan Holden was not a part of the squad which earned a point on the road against Hobro IK in the teams' 1-1 draw on Thursday afternoon.