DAVID SMITH - Sunday, December 4, 2011
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland were held to a scoreless draw by Midtjylland while a late equalizer by Brøndby robbed Brad Rusin and Køge their chance of heading into the break with a victory.
Silkeborg IF 4 - 2 Aalborg BK
Chris Rolfe played the full 90 minutes on Saturday as Aalborg were blown out by a 4-2 scoreline on their trip to Silkeborg.
The hosts were first on the board after just 11 minutes had passed, with Christian Holst doing fine work to maintain possession on the right edge of the six-yard box before chipping a short pass to the far side towards Jesper Bech, who made easy work of his short tap-in.
The lead held only for six minutes, when a lethargic looking Silkeborg defense allowed Nicklas Helenius to work forward on the right side unimpeded and hit a cross towards center, which Henrik Dalsgaard side-footed in for the equalizer.
The score held through the remainder of the half, however Silkeborg came to life shortly past the break, putting the game away in an explosive 20-minute space of time.
In the 50th minute, Henrik Pedersen jumped on a weakly-hit back-pass by Kennith Emil Petersen and put it away for 2-1, then 16 minutes later Kasper Risgård slipped behind the wall of defenders to head in a long set piece from Jesper Mikkelsen for the two-goal lead.
Then four minutes later, Jesper Bech headed in a sharp cross from Henrik Pedersen, effectively ending even the slightest hopes of an Aalborg rally.
A goal by Aalborg striker Kayake Rodrigues moments later after Lasse Heinze blocked a shot by Rolfe into the Brazilian's path did help them to regain some measure of respect in the loss, but did nothing to change the ultimate result.
Aalborg drop to seventh with the loss and head into the three-month winter break in the bottom half of the standings. They are expected to meet again in January for their winter training camp, and will be back in action in early-March against Copenhagen.
FC Nordsjaelland 0 - 0 FC Midtjylland
Michael Parkhurst went the distance at right back for Nordsjaelland as they closed a successful 2011 with a scoreless draw at home against Midtjylland.
Parkhurst was close to opening the scoring for Nordsjaelland after 11 minutes when Nicolai Stockholm stormed forward and slid the ball over to him in the right side of the area, however his one-timed shot flew just to the right of goal.
The Wild Tigers dominated the strangely placid Wolves throughout the match, and had perhaps their best chance for a winner 20 minutes from full time when Mikkel Beckmann's volley was kept out of goal only by a lucky deflection off of the head of a Midtjylland defender.
Midtjylland held strong through the final whistle, however, with each team heading into winter with their share of the points.
Nordsjaelland will end 2011 in second place, four behind Copenhagen and five ahead of Midtjylland. They get back to action in March against Aarhus, hoping that a continuance of their strong run will see them through to European qualification.
HB Køge 1 - 1 Brøndby IF
Clarence Goodson played the full 90 minutes in Brøndby's defense while Brad Rusin was a late substitute for Køge, as a late goal by each team saw them end Sunday's game with a draw.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Brøndby head coach Auri Skarbalius, the man responsible for twice coaching the team to the top flight before departing to Brøndby as an assistant during the summer, and eventually taking over as the team's interim coach in October.
Køge were clearly the dominant team throughout the first half, creating constant pressure around the Brøndby goal and coming close to opening the scoring on several occasions.
They felt cheated out of perhaps their best chance to take the lead moments before the break when it appeared that Brøndby central defender Daniel Stenderup had had handled the ball in the area, but the referee opted to keep his whistle quiet on the play.
The hosts again had ample reason to complain midway through the second half when Goodson yanked Simon Makienok Christoffersen over in the area by his jersey, but again the referee inexplicably failed to whistle for the spot kick.
Rusin entered the game with 16 minutes left as Køge head coach Tommy Møller Nielsen looked to throw all forward for a winning goal, and moments later the team appeared to have thrust themselves to victory.
A free kick by by Bo Storm sailed just over the Brøndby wall and was barely kept out of goal by a diving save from Michael Tørnes, however the ball landed in perfect position for Marcel Rømer to put away into the open net.
Køge looked headed to just their second win of the season, and continued limit Brøndby's chances in the final quarter-hour, however it all came crashing down in injury time.
In the 92nd minute, Mikkel Thygesen sent a free kick into the box, and the otherwise sub-par Dario Dumic slipped free of the line of defenders and slotted the ball past Morten H. Jensen, ruining the evening for the hosts.
Køge remain 11 points adrift of safety with just over half of the season's games played, and will return in March with a trip to AC Horsens, facing a monumental task to keep their place in the division.
Brøndby increase their margin above the relegation zone to six points, and have three months to contemplate their poor first half and bring in reinforcements before returning to the field against SønderjyskE.
Conor O'Brien will hope for substitute minutes on Monday evening when SønderjyskE end the year with a visit from Odense BK.