DAVID SMITH - Sunday, May 16, 2010
Benny Feilhaber and Aarhus' campaign ended in relegation thanks to a heavy-handed home loss to Odense while Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjælland closed their season with a stunning three-goal comeback at Esbjerg.
AGF Aarhus 0 - 3 Odense BK
Benny Feilhaber entered Aarhus' final game of the season as a second-half substitute, however he was unable to help his team turn the tide as a trio of goals by Odense condemned them to relegation.
With their season down to its last gasp of air, Aarhus needed a victory coupled with a loss by Randers in their game against Brøndby to have any hope of avoiding a drop to the Danish First Division for the upcoming season.
While Brøndby's 3-1 win over Randers gave Feilhaber and his teammates the opening they needed, a second-half defensive collapse saw their once-promising season end in bitter disappointment.
Their quest for survival almost immediately got off on the wrong foot when Johan Absalonsen initially lost the ball in a duel with Aarhus keeper Steffen Rassmussen, before recovering possession and sliding it over to the wide-open Njogu Demba-Nyrén for an easy finish, giving Odense the sixth-minute lead.
Aarhus pressed for the remainder of the half in search of a lifeline, but a sloppiness on the attacking end saw a number chances wasted, giving their visitors little trouble to maintain the lead through the intermission.
Feilhaber entered the game as a 56th minute offensive substitute for defender Frederik Krabbe, but saw his team's spirit crushed almost immediately after when Odense added a pair of goals to put the game beyond doubt.
Demba-Nyrén put his second of the afternoon past Rassmussen when he rose to head in a corner from Absalonsen one minute before the hour mark, then Hans Henrik Andreasen put in the final nail three minutes later, heading in a fine cross from Espen Ruud.
Needing four goals to hold their top-flight status, Aarhus caught a minor break with 19 minutes remaining after Jonas Troest was giving his marching orders for a second yellow, but another series of wasted chances by Dioh Williams and Peter Graulund in the closing minutes left Aarhus unable to find their way onto the scoreboard for even a consolation goal.
Feilhaber will have little time to mourn his team's misfortune before heading across the Atlantic to join up with his fellow USA teammates in Princeton as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup.
Esbjerg fB 3 - 3 FC Nordsjælland
Michael Parkhurst went the distance on the right side of Nordsjælland's midfield as the Wild Tigers closed their remarkable season with a three-goal rally at Esbjerg.
Nordsjælland's grueling 120 minute victory in the Danish Cup final three days before looked to have taken its toll on the team when Esbjerg jumped to a two-goal lead after barely more than half an hour.
A scrum in front of their goal in the ninth minute left the ball at the feet of Jeppe Mehl for an easy opening goal, then Tim Janssen was the beneficiary of a fine cross from Kevin Conboy in the 33rd minute, and made no mistake in putting away his free header for the 2-0 lead.
Peter Nymann put his team up by three, and seemingly in line for the final Europa League qualification place with a fantastic solo effort ten minutes after the intermission, but the Wild Tigers woke up soon after to quickly turn the tide.
Esbjerg's defenders were unable to deal with a set piece in the 66th minute, with Andreas Bjelland finally poking in the loose ball, then two of the team's most promising youngsters gave a glimpse of the future, with Andreas Laudrup setting up Andreas Granskov to cut the lead to a single goal six minutes later.
Having shifted momentum squarely in their favor, Nordsjælland completed their remarkable comeback with 11 minutes left in regulation, as Tobias Mikkelsen took advantage of slack defending for his low shot to earn his team a hard-fought draw.
While Nordsjælland finished their league campaign in the bottom half of the standings at seventh, they will still be looking forward to European competition next season thanks to their Danish Cup win.
FC Roskilde 0 - 1 FC Fredericia
Jamil Fearrington and Roskilde put on a solid defensive performance against promotion-hunting Fredericia on Sunday, however a second-half goal saw them drop their second straight.
Roskilde had hoped to rebound from last weekend's letdown at Lyngby and complete the double over Fredericia, but were unable to find their way into the net despite an overall solid performance.
They held their own against their now-second place visitors, but the absence of main attacking weapon Poul Hübertz, suspended for the game, saw them largely toothless on Fredericia's end of the field.
While a draw would have been a fair result, Morten Friis gave his team the victory with 17 minutes left in regulation when he rose above Roskilde defender Jannick Larsen to head in the winner.
Roskilde remain in 12th place with a three-point cushion above the drop zone, and will hope to get back on a winning tip in their next contest against eighth-place Naestved BK.
Kolding FC 2 - 0 Viborg FF
Babajide Ogunbiyi was a 90-minute man for Viborg as they extended their winless streak with a lifeless loss at Kolding on Sunday.
While Kolding were able to control the general flow of the game and looked more than capable of handling their opponents, the team was lacking the precision needed on the final pass to capitalize on any of their chances.
They were unable to deal with a set piece in the 14th minute, allowing Michael Fisker to give Kolding the unexpected opening goal, then again saw the inability to clear the ball out of their danger area practically gift Kolding the 2-0 lead on a Søren Petersen tally nine minutes later.
Deflated by their embarrassing predicament, Viborg showed less fight as the second half wore on, and a sloppy finish left little doubt as to the final victory for relegation candidates Kolding.
Viborg remain in sixth place, but will expect to turn things around in their next game against last-place Brabrand.
Neither Chris Rolfe nor Marcus Tracy, who are both recovering from injuries, suited up for Aalborg as the team could only manage a goalless draw at home against last-place Køge. Their quest for Europa League qualification was also scuppered thanks to Brøndby's win over Randers, leaving the team with final fifth-place standing.
Euan Holden is working his way back to health after surgery and did not dress for Vejle's goalless draw at home against AB Copenhagen.