DAVID SMITH - Monday, March 15, 2010
Chris Rolfe made his Superliga debut in Aalborg's loss at Midtjylland, while Nordsjælland's Michael Parkhurst watched a boring affair at Randers from the bench.
FC Midtjylland 2 - 0 Aalborg BK
Chris Rolfe took the field as a 70th minute substitute for Aalborg, but the damage was already done as a pair of first-half goals pushed hosts Midtjylland to the win.
Aalborg gave signs of a spring turnaround with Monday's convincing win over Nordsjælland, and needed to keep the momentum on their trip to the Wolves' MCH Arena on Sunday afternoon if they had any hope of pushing towards top-three finish and the resulting Europa League placement.
The hosts immediately looked the more vicious of the two teams, mounting repeated affronts to Karim Zaza's goal, and deservedly taking the lead after 18 minutes.
Midtjylland defender Leon Jessen intercepted an attempted Aalborg clearance near midfield and served a high pass into their penalty area, which Mikkel Thygesen headed down into the path of Jonas Borring who sent his high angled shot over Zaza for the lead.
With Aalborg's main attacking weapon of Jeppe Curth having left the game in the first 15 minutes with an ankle injury, the team had troubles to cause any dangerous threat to the hosts despite slowly getting a better hand on matters.
Rather, Midtjylland increased their lead to two goals just before the halftime whistle as their talismanic veteran Frank Kristensen rose high to head in a Thygesen from the left flank for his 100th top-flight goal.
The second half started with a whimper, with the first real chance for either side coming in the 57th minute with a missed header by Kristensen, and neither team really looking able to create any fireworks.
Rolfe took the field in the 70th minute for midfielder Patrick Kristensen for his club debut on European soil, but had a fairly subdued run-out without creating any real danger.
Lasse Nielsen had the perfect chance to bring Aalborg back into it when he was on the receiving end of a cross from Ronnie Schwartz, with a nearly open goal in front of him, however he shot the freebie wide right, leaving consigned to a shut-out loss.
Aalborg forward Marcus Tracy continues to fight injury and did not suit up for Aalborg, however could see his chances for playing time significantly increase over the coming weeks should he regain health, depending on the severity of Curth's ankle injury.
Aalborg remain temporarily in fifth place pending the outcome of Aarhus' Monday evening encounter with Silkeborg. They will fully expect to come away from next weekend's visit to last-place Køge with a win.
Michael Parkhurst did not take the field for Nordsjælland as they suffered through a drab scoreless draw with Randers on Sunday.
Benny Feilhaber is still several weeks away from a return to the field as he nurses an ankle injury, and will not take part when Aarhus host Silkeborg on Monday evening.