DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Clarence Goodson was good for an early goal on Wednesday night in Brøndby's draw with Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland while a loss by Chris Rolfe and Aalborg will see their relegation fight go down to the last game.
Brøndby IF 1 - 1 FC Nordsjaelland
An 11th-minute goal by Clarence Goodson put Brøndby ahead for most of their Wednesday evening encounter with newly-re-crowned Danish Cup champs Nordsjaelland, however they were forced to settle for a draw thanks to a late goal by Swedish hero Rawez Lawan.
While it would take an unlikely turn of events to see Nordsjaelland relegated from the Superligaen, they came into the game knowing that a win would guarantee their safety no matter what happens in the final weekend, and were hoping to ride the momentum from their remarkable cup final win over the weekend to get what they needed.
For Brøndby, a win combined with an Odense loss could feasibly bring them to within two points of Champions League qualification, although in the end a win by second-place Odense made it a moot point.
An 11th-minute corner by Brøndby's Nicolaj Agger allowed the hosts to jump ahead, as their American central defender Clarence Goodson found himself free of surrounding defenders to head the ball into the net for the lead.
Brøndby spent the whole first half keeping Nordsjaelland on their back heel, and could have increased their lead were it not for a lack of crispness in the final attack and a series of good saves from opposing keeper Jesper Hansen.
The second half saw both teams struggling to maintain any rhythm, and the game looked headed for a stale 1-0 win to Brøndby until the Wild Tigers kicked into overdrive in the final minutes trying to push for an equalizer.
Their surge paid off with seven minutes remaining, after a hard blast from Morten Nordstrand was parried by Brøndby keeper Stephan Andersen directly in the path of the onrushing Lawan, who got his head on the ball and sent it into the net for 1-1.
The draw has no effect on Brøndby's league standing, as they still lead Midtjylland by way of goal differential heading into the final weekend, and are guaranteed of a spot on the Europa League no matter what the outcome of their visit to SønderjyskE.
Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland remain in seventh and now completely clear of relegation danger, and can feasibly jump as high as fifth place to finish the league should they manage to beat revenge-minded Midtjylland in their final Superligaen game on Sunday.
Aalborg BK 1 - 2 SønderjyskE
Chris Rolfe got the start for Aalborg on Wednesday night, playing the first 69 minutes in right midfield as they fell to visiting SønderjyskE, assuring a nervous final weekend of league play.
Aalborg striker Jeppe Curth wasted an early chance, when he aimed a free header within reach of SønderjyskE keeper Nathan Coe, who easily blocked it out for a corner in the sixth minute.
They were made to pay for their wastefulness in the 20th minute, as center forward Quincy Antipas picked out a wide-open Søren Frederiksen, who had plenty of time to aim his shot well out of Aalborg keeper Karim Zaza's reach.
The visitors doubled the lead 15 minutes later under somewhat lucky circumstances, as a poor ball into Aalborg's box by Henrik Bødker somehow still ended up at the foot of Eyjolfur Hedinsson, who quickly pressed forward and put his shot on-frame for 2-0.
Aalborg went on a full offensive as the second half wore on, putting as much attacking firepower as possible onto the field to try to make up the two-goal disadvantage.
They did pull one back with 12 minutes left when Kjetil Waehler rose high to head in a corner, and even though SønderjyskE were reduced to ten men for the final few minutes after Olafur Ingi Skulason was sent off near the end of regulation, the three points still went to the visitors, leaving Aalborg empty-handed for the second straight game.
While Aalborg are two points out of the relegation zone with the final weekend approaching, they are hardly out of the woods as a loss on the road to league champions Copenhagen would put them in severe danger of dropping behind both Randers and Lyngby, and into the bottom three.
Babajide Ogunbiyi was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and watched from the stands as Viborg blew a 2-0 lead to eventually draw even with Kolding FC on Tuesday night. They head into their final game on Sunday at last-place Hvidovre with a slight advantage over Kolding in the fight to avoid relegation, with a one-point lead and superior goal differential.
Euan Holden and Hjørring confirmed their place in the First Division for next season with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Naestved BK on Tuesday evening.