DAVID SMITH - Monday, April 18, 2011
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg suffered a crippling last-second collapse against first-place Aarhus while Clarence Goodson returned to action for Brøndby in their loss to Aalborg.
Brøndby IF 2 - 1 Aalborg BK
Clarence Goodson saw the field for the first time since suffering an injury back in March, taking the field as an early substitute in the first half to help steady Brøndby's back line after a pair of early Aalborg goals effectively put the game away.
Aalborg forward Chris Rolfe was selected in the squad but sat as an unused substitute, while Marcus Tracy is out for the remainder of the season due to knee problems.
Having entered the game both in last place in the league standings and as major underdogs to Brøndby, Aalborg was quick to show a glimpse of the strong play which had seen them as title contenders in recent years.
Jeppe Curth headed a short pass to Aalborg teammate Morten Rasmussen on the left side of the field, and the on-loan Celtic FC striker surged past the defense into the area and aimed his low shot past keeper Stephan Andersen for the 14th minute lead.
They doubled it nine minutes later, with Curth again playing provider, this time slipping the ball to Anders Due on the right side near the midfield stripe. Due raced up the field, cut in towards Andersen's goal and blasted his shot inside the upper right corner for 2-0.
Shocked by the early collapse, Brøndby coach Henrik Jensen wasted no time to change his approach, making a 31st-minute double-substitution which saw Goodson enter the game at center back in place of Daniel Stenderup.
While the move settled Brøndby's ability to stop their visitors' charges towards goal, it did little to improve their own forays into Aalborg's danger area, until they finally pulled one back under somewhat fortunate circumstances 20 minutes into the second half.
Brøndby attacker Daniel Wass took a long crack from well outside the 18-yard box which Aalborg keeper Karim Zaza judged well, however the ball struck the leg of defender Michael Lumb on its way towards goal, with the deflection sending it well out of Zaza's reach for 2-1.
Goodson came close to earning a point for Brøndby when he headed over the bar with four minutes left in regulation, but the final whistle blew to award all the points to Aalborg.
Brøndby remain third place with the loss, still four points behind Odense in the race for Champions League qualification, however this gap could grow depending on Monday-night results. They next take the field when hosting Esbjerg fB on Thursday.
Aalborg remain lasat despite the victory, however they now are just three points below the surface and could catch a breath on Wednesday when they host fellow relegation strugglers Randers.
Viborg FF 2 - 3 AGF Aarhus
Babajide Ogunbiyia and Viborg saw a late victory slip from their grasp in the worst possible way, giving up a pair of injury time goals just minutes after surging ahead of visiting Aarhus to slump to yet another loss.
Ogunbiyi was on-target for the Greens, scoring Viborg's first goal just before the half which pulled the team temporarily even after their visitors had struck first.
Aarhus were just beginning the post Benny Feilhaber era after the midfielder's unexpected transfer to MLS the night before, but had no problems to assert their dominance on the game with the opening goal six minutes past the half-hour mark.
Veteran midfielder Martin Jørgensen received the ball at the upper left edge of the penalty area and looped a fantastic shot that flew just inside the far corner to put the AGF ahead.
The lead was short-lived, as Ogunbiyi lept over the defense on a corner five minutes later and pulled the Greens on even footing, much to the delight of the home crowd.
After more than 40 minutes passing with neither team able to break through for a go-ahead goal, the game looked headed for a draw until a wild finish saw a trio of scores in the final five minutes of regulation and added time.
First-half substitute Jonas Thorsen received the ball on the right side in the 85th minute and centered it for Dennis Høegh, who ran in to knock it into goal for the apparent winner.
Their joy would quickly turn sour, however, with the first blow coming off the foot of Arthur Sorin, who nailed a free kick from the upper right edge of Viborg's 18-yard box just inside the lower far corner in the fourth minute of added time.
Not yet finished for the afternoon, Aarhus assured that Viborg would leave the field entirely empty-handed, with a 95th-minute counter-attack ending when Peter Graulund received the ball directly in front of goal after running the entire length of the field and calmly put it away for the dramatic 3-2 winner.
A lack of wins amongst their direct competitors trying to escape the relegation zone meant that their gap to safety remains at just a single point. They can take a huge step toward survival on Thursday evening when they face fellow strugglers Fyn in a vital six-pointer.
Michael Parkhurst is still recovering from injury and was not a part of the Nordsjaelland squad which fell at home to local rivals FC Copenhaben by a 3-1 scoreline on Sunday afternoon.