DAVID SMITH - Monday, April 23, 2012
Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE continued rolling with a win over Brad Rusin and Køge, while Clarence Goodson and Brøndby were unable to hold off a second-half charge by Midtjylland.
Brøndby IF 0 - 2 FC Midtjylland
Clarence Goodson played the full game in central defense for Brøndby on Sunday, however a pair of second-half goals from Midtjylland saw them lose out in front of the home crowd.
After a lifeless first half during which neither team could create any consistent attacking rhythm, Midtjylland needed an opportune dead-ball situation to take the lead.
In the 63rd minute, Jakob Poulsen swung a long free kick from the left flank into the six-yard box, where Kristian Bak Nielsen rose high to head the ball behind him and into the right side of goal.
With nine minutes on the clock, the Wolves added an insurance goal, thanks in large to Brøndby's inability to clear the ball from their own area. Adigun Salami had two shots near the left post blocked in rapid succession, and upon receiving the ball a third time, crossed it to the right side where Sylvester Igboun ran in to emphatically put it away.
Brøndby fall to ninth place, although still 10 points clear of relegation danger. They will be back in action on Sunday with a visit to Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE.
SønderjyskE 2 - 1 HB Køge
Conor O'Brien put in a full afternoon of work in the center of SønderjyskE's midfield, Brad Rusin saw just over a half-hour of work as a second-half substitute as Køge were unable to take advantage of an early-sending off in yet another loss.
SønderjyskE forward Quincy Antipas was an unstoppable force on the team's opening goal in the 24th minute, receiving the ball from Eyjólfur Hédinsson on the right side and leaving a pair of Køge defenders in the dust before angling his low shot past the keeper and over the line.
Ten minutes later, the Zimbabwean international was shown a questionable straight red card on a corner, as he jockeyed for position with Ronnie Bendtsen and appeared to elbow the defender. Replays later showed that his elbow had inadvertently struck Bendtsen's chest, however his display of rolling on the ground while gripping his face was enough to convince the referee the infraction was far more malicious.
Despite their newfound disadvantage, SønderjyskE succeeded in increasing their lead four minutes before the half, as Lasse Vibe scored a scrappy goal when he latched onto a loose ball and fired it between the keeper's legs just inside the right post.
Rusin entered the game just before the hour to replace right back Simon Richter, however the towering American was quickly moved to the front of the attack where he did come close on a pair of occasions.
Køge were given some hope in the first minute of added time when Lasse Kronborg launched a shot from 22 yards out that grazed the keeper's fingertips, rattled the underside of the crossbar and fell inside goal for the 2-1.
The team fought hard in the final seconds to earn a last-minute point, but were thwarted on several occasions by the clutch saves of keeper Nathan Coe.
With yet another win in the bag, SønderjyskE climb to sixth place, however making up the eight-point difference to have any chance at European qualification through league finish is likely too much to ask.
They will be back on he field on Wednesday, when they host leaders Copenhagen in the second leg of the Danish Cup semifinal.
Køge remain at the bottom of the standings, but can add the silver lining to their season should they come away victorious in their semifinal second-leg trip to Horsens on Thursday.
Michael Parkhurst is recovering from a toe injury and did not suit up for Nordsjaelland 2-0 win at Aalborg on Saturday. Chris Rolfe is no longer a part of Aalborg's squad as he returned to MLS club Chicago Fire earlier in the week. Combined with a loss by third-place Horsens, the Wild Tigers now have a seven-point cushion in second place in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Babajide Ogunbiyi was on the bench on Friday for Viborg's 2-2 draw on the road with Vejle BK Kolding. The result leaves them seven points out of the promotion spots, although with 12 games still left to play.