DAVID SMITH - Monday, November 28, 2011
Joseph Bendik and Sogndal ended their season on a high note with a win over Molde while Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek were unable to break their long winless streak at Valerenga.
Sogndal IL 2 - 1 Molde FK
Joseph Bendik once again played the full 90 minutes in goal for Sogndal in place of normal starter Kenneth Udjus, as they came back from an early deficit to deal division champions Molde their first defeat since August.
Neither of Molde's American players suited for the team as Josh Gatt is still recovering from injury and Sean Cunningham was not selected for the gameday roster.
With Molde having already wrapped up their first-ever championship several weeks before kickoff and Sogndal's safety from relegation confirmed during the previous weekend's round of games, the game was a final victory lap of sorts for both before the long off-season break.
Molde took the lead in the 16th minute following a poor clearance by Sogndal's defense. The ball ended up at the foot of Jo Inge Berget, who sent Zlatko Tripic through on goal, where he placed his low shot between Bendik's legs for the quick 1-0.
Determined to break their five-game winless run and end their season on a high note, Sogndal fought back and equalized six minutes before the break when a ten-yard shot from Tonny Brockmann was initially parried by Molde keeper Elias Valderhaug, but fell in perfect position for Tore André Flo to put away with the rebound.
The 38 year-old former Chelsea star then gave his team the winner in the 56th minute in moment of deja vu, as yet another shot from Brockmann was blocked by Valderhaug, but again landed directly at the foot of Flo for a strike between the keeper's legs for 2-1.
Molde rarely threatened over the last half-hour, and the final whistle blew after three minutes of added time to award Sogndal the win.
The result both breaks Sogndal's five-game winless run in league play while also finally snapping Molde's ten-game streak since their last loss.
Molde's status as champions was already confirmed several weeks ago, while Sogndal will finish the season in 14th place.
Valerenga Oslo 2 - 0 Stabaek IF
Mikkel Diskerud played the full 90 minutes in Stabaek's central midfield on Sunday evening, as their season ended on a predictably sour note with a shut-out loss at Valerenga.
In the midst of a sea of off-field controversy and a looming financial crisis likely to shake up the club heading into the next season, Stabaek came into the game on a six-game winless streak, and with only a single victory to their name since mid-August.
Despite Stabaek's own problems, the focus of the game was on Valerenga midfielder Freddy dos Santos, who was playing his final game as a professional and was receiving a hero's farewell from all in attendance after spending the final ten years of his career at the club.
Valerenga needed just six minutes to fight their way onto the scoreboard, as a shot from Harmeet Singh was blocked by the defense, but fell to the foot of 18 year-old striker Chuma Anene for an easy 1-0.
Midway through the second half, Valerenga added an insurance goal after left winger Håvard Nielsen was pulled down in the area by Vegar Eggen Hedenstad.
There was little question as to who would take the spot kick for the hosts, and dos Santos struck his drive straight down the middle, with the ball taking a bounce off the underside of the crossbar and over the line for the picture-perfect ending shot.
The final result sees Stabaek end the season in tenth place. With a financial gutting of the club expected during the off-season as a result of relocating the team to their former, and much smaller, stadium as well as ongoing court cases, there is a growing likelihood that Diskerud will not be with squad when they begin their 2012 campaign in March.