DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Michael Parkhurst returned to Nordsjaelland's starting lineup for their high-scoring win over Aarhus while Brad Rusin anchored Køge's back line for their fourth victory of the season.
FC Nordsjaelland 5 - 3 AGF Aarhus
Michael Parkhurst shook off a broken toe to play the full 90 in Nordsjaelland's central defense, as a second-half surge saw them fight back from two-goals down to take three points at home against AGF Aarhus.
Aarhus looked to be flying before the half hour mark, with Martin Jørgensen giving the team a 14th-minute lead from the spot and Peter Graulund following up 12 minutes later when he put away a cross by Søren Berg from close range.
The Wild Tigers quickly fought back, however, pulling one back in the 32nd minute when a quick counter was finished with Kaspar Lorentzen setting up Søren Christensen for a blast from the edge of the box, then equalizing in the 41st with Christensen netting a scrappy goal from the left edge of the six-yard box after fighting off several defenders.
Aarhus did retake the lead moments before the break when Berg picking out Aron Johannsson for a high looping header to the upper left corner, but that would be the last bright spot for the visitors.
Nordsjaelland were even just before the hour with Tobias Mikkelsen sending Christensen through on the left side, where he managed to poke the ball in despite a near-perfect lunge by the Aarhus keeper.
With the game looking headed for a draw, the hosts took firm control over the final five minutes, earning the win in the 85th thanks to a sliding point-blank shot by Mikkel Beckmann, then added a fifth for good measure in the dying moments as Mikkelsen ran onto a wide pass from Enock Kofi Adu on the left and put his shot away into the lower far corner.
With five games left in the season, Nordsjaelland still have a commanding seven-point lead over Midtjylland in the race for the league's second Champions League spot. They will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Copenhagen, in a game which could throw them back into contention for the title.
HB Køge 2 - 1 AC Horsens
Brad Rusin played 88 minutes in Køge's central defense on Sunday, helping the team hold off AC Horsens to hold off their relegation for at least one more week.
Horsens squandered a perfect opportunity to take the lead in the 35th minute when Anders Nøhr's attempted penalty was pushed wide by keeper Morten H. Jensen, and were made to pay after the break as a pair of Køge goals secured the result.
In the 61st minute, Martin Christensen sent in a cross from the left flank towards Tobias Thomsen, who bent over to send a flat header back to the far post.
Then in the 73rd minute, what looked to be a long cross by Thomas Sørensen from the right flank angled just inside the upper left corner, catching Horsens keeper Frederik Rønnow by surprise, and giving the visitors the 2-0 lead.
Horsens did pull one back with three minutes remaining in the game as Martin Retov set up Martin Spelmann on a run into the right side for a high shot, but the hosts held on for the win.
While still not mathematically assured of relegation, Køge's ten-point gap below the surface is likely too much to make up in the final five games. They will next suit up on Thursday with a trip to Midtjylland.
SønderjyskE 3 - 3 Brøndby IF
Conor O'Brien played the full game in SønderjyskE's midfield on Sunday, helping the team stay within reach of Europa League qualification with a home draw against Clarence Goodson and Brøndby.
In a strangely uneven game, all six goals were scored in a frantic opening half-hour, while both teams clamped down on the defensive end to mitigate any further damage thereafter.
In the 13th minute, Michael Krohn-Dehli threaded a fine through ball into the box which Simon Makienok put just inside the far post from a tight angle, then three minutes later Krohn-Dehli acutely triggered their second goal.
He fired a long ball over the defense to the streaking Dennis Rommedahl to isolate the 133-times capped winger in a one-on-one with the keeper. Rommedahl tapped the ball to the right, rounded the keeper on the left, and caught up just in time to tap the ball over the line.
Brøndby's two-goal lead lasted just four minutes, as Eyjólfur Hédinsson got on the end of a cross from the right side and easily tapped it over the line in the 17th minute, then Quincy Antipas equalized three minutes later as he slid in near the left edge of the six-yard box to re-direct a low free kick over the line.
The fireworks were not yet finished, as Brøndby retook the lead two minutes afterwards with Rommedahl again playing the hero, pulling down a long ball in the upper right corner of the box and firing just below the crossbar for the 3-2 advantage.
Not to be outmatched, the hosts again pulled even just before the half-hour, with Lasse Vibe storming into the right side of the area, beating defender Daniel Stenderup with one touch and hitting his low shot just inside the near post.
The early goal-fest was a wake-up call for both teams, as their respective coaches forced them to take a more tactical approach for the remaining hour, with the game eventually ending tied at three goals apiece.
SønderjyskE are in seventh place, however are just one point out of fifth place, and the league's final Europa League qualification place. They face a huge test on Thursday when they visit fourth-place AC Horsens.
Goodson and his teammates finish the weekend in ninth place, and will be back in action on Thursday when they try to play spoiler to Silkeborg's Europa League qualification hopes.
Babajide Ogunbiyi was absent from Viborg's starting lineup on Friday evening, as a 2-2 draw at home against second-place Randers left them seven points back of the promotion spots with seven games left to go in the season.