DAVID SMITH - Monday, March 5, 2012
The Danish Superliga returned to action, with Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland picking up a point on the road at Aarhus and Clarence Goodson's picking up a valuable win over SønderjyskE.
AGF Aarhus 1 - 1 FC Nordsjaelland
Michael Parkhurst played the full 90 minutes on the right side of Nordsjaelland's defense as they earned a point on their trip to Aarhus on Saturday.
After finishing the first half of the season nearly three months before on a remarkably strong run that brought them all the way up to second place, an overall fluid performance left few doubts as to whether they would be showing any rust stemming from the lack of competitive action.
They took an early lead in the 18th minute thanks to the fine teamwork of one veteran and two relative newcomers.
Team captain Nicolai Stockholm fired a long ball to last summer's arrival Patrick Mtiliga on the left side, where the former Malaga maintained possession near the endline before dropping the ball back to the left edge of the six-yard box.
Kasper Lorentzen, who was making his Nordsjaelland debut after joining the team in late-January on loan from Randers, was waiting just in front of goal to tap the ball over the line for a perfect first appearance with the club.
The Wild Tigers looked firmly in control of the game, however were done in just moments before halftime thanks to an unfortunate defensive miscue.
Stockholm's pass from near the midfield deflected off of teammate Enoch Adu and landed at the foot of Hjalte Nørregaard, who fed Aron Johannsson on a dead sprint towards goal. Isolated in a one-on-one with Nordsjaelland keeper Jesper Hansen, the Icelandic youth international had no problems to put the ball away just inside the far corner for the 45th-minute equalizer.
The second half saw an open encounter with both teams able to charge their opponents, yet unable to ultimately find a winner, with the end result giving each team one point.
The Wild Tigers remain securely in second place after the weekend's round of games, trailing leaders Copenhagen by four points, and sitting four ahead of third-place Horsens.
They return to action on Sunday when they make the trip west to visit last season's Superligaen runners up Odense BK.
Brøndby IF 1 - 0 SønderjyskE
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby started their spring 2012 campaign on the right foot, shutting SønderjyskE out on the way to a crucial three points on Sunday afternoon.
SønderjyskE midfielder Conor O'Brien was in uniform for the game, however watched the entirety of the game from the bench as head coach Lars Søndergaard opted to use only one of his three allowed substitutions.
Brøndby dominated possession and scoring chances from start to finish, but were continually averted or sloppy with their chances, and were forced to endure more than 3/4 of the game before being gifted a somewhat fortunate winning goal.
In the 68th minute, Michael Krohn-Dehli went up for an air dual against SønderjyskE keeper Kenneth Stenild preventing a proper clearance, and the resulting loose ball blatantly struck Norwegian defender Anders Østli on the arm, forcing the referee to award a penalty to the hosts.
Krohn-Dehli elected to take the spot kick himself, and beat Stenild for a second time, coolly slotting his penalty past the keeper for the lone goal of the game.
The result puts both teams even on 21 points, a relatively safe six ahead of the relegation places, with Brøndby holding the slight edge over SønderjyskE on goal differential.
Both will be back in action on Sunday, with Goodson and Brøndby hosting AGF Aarhus and O'Brien hoping to make it off the bench for SønderjyskE when they visit Copenhagen.
Aalborg BK 1 - 1 FC Copenhagen
Chris Rolfe earned the start on the right side of Aalborg's midfield on Sunday afternoon, as they conspired with league leaders Copenhagen for an injury-time thriller of a draw.
As was customary for most of the first half of the season, Rolfe was in the starting lineup as one of the team's attacking threats, and helped a front line which tested the Copenhagen defense on regular occasions throughout the opening 45 minutes.
With Aalborg unable to score before the break, the visitors took control for much of the second half, however suffered the same fate in being unable to convert any of their numerous chances.
Rolfe was pulled in favor of 17 year-old attacking midfielder Lucas Andersen with 12 minutes left, however it was Copenhagen that succeeded to break through first for an apparent winner.
Three minutes into injury time, Martin Vingaard sent in a cross which Senegalese international Dame N'Doye headed in for the 1-0 lead.
Aalborg had one final act however, as the referee allowed the game to play on far past the allotted injury time. Nicklas Helenius was the hero, finishing off a stylish buildup when he took a pass back from Jeppe Curth just beyond the penalty area and emphatically slammed it home for the equalizer.
With the point taken, Aalborg climb to sixth place in the league standings, and will be back on the field on Sunday when they host relegation-bound Lyngby.
Brad Rusin watched from Køge's bench as an unused substitute on Sunday in their 2-1 loss on the road against AC Horsens. The result leaves them still rooted to the bottom of the standings, a full 14 points from safety with 14 games left in the season.