RECAP: WEEKEND DANISH ACTION
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland kept the ball rolling with a win over Silkeborg while Brad Rusin was a late substitute for Køge as they couldn't hang on to an early lead at Copenhagen.
Silkeborg IF 1 - 2 FC Nordsjaelland
Michael Parkhurst did his part to push Nordsjaelland to a landmark victory on Sunday afternoon, serving up the assist on the team's winning last-minute goal as they squeezed past Silkeborg.
The team was coming off of one of their few true down points of the season, having been knocked out of contention for a third straight Danish Cup title during the week at the hands of local rivals FC Copenhagen.
Even with the poor result, they found themselves in the previously unfamiliar spot of being able to secure a top-two place in the league standings heading into the winter break thanks to their increasingly strong run of results over the last two months.
They were off to a good start, decisively proving to be the dominant team from the opening whistle and taking the lead just past the midway point of the half.
In the 25th minute, team captain Nicolai Stockholm charged up the middle to begin a counter attack before swinging the ball into the left flank for Patrick Mtiliga. The 30 year-old veteran hit a low cross to the center of the box where Mark Gundelach charged in to put it away for the lead.
Silkeborg netted an unlikely equalizer 11 minutes into the second half when Christopher Poulsen charged to the endline and tried to center the ball to his onrushing teammates, however Henrik Kildentoft's attempted block took an unlucky deflection and bounced over the line for an own-goal.
The Wild Tigers pushed everything forward in the final minutes in hopes of securing the win, with head coach Kasper Hjulmand making the ultimately fortuitous decision of moving Parkhurst up into the midfield to join the attack.
His gambit paid off in the final minute of regulation, as Parkhurst was given far too much room by the Silkeborg defense in the right flank, just outside the area. The American picked out Kildentoft in the middle of the box with a fine cross which the defender controlled with one touch then placed just inside the left post for the winner.
The three points gives the Wild Tigers a five-point lead on Midtjylland with only one more game left before the winter break. This assures they will sit a best-ever second place at the season's midway point.
They have one last outing before heading home for the holidays, as they will host Midtjylland on Sunday afternoon.
FC Copenhagen 2 - 1 HB Køge
Brad Rusin was a late substitute for Køge in their Sunday-afternoon match at FC Copenhagen, however the lethal blows had already been dealt by the time he entered the field in their disappointing loss.
In a first versus worst matchup where few would have given Køge much of any chance, the visitors were first on the board and came within less than 20 minutes of pulling off what would have been perhaps the most shocking upset of the season.
They took the lead over their shocked hosts in the 36th minute when Lasse Kronborg delivered a perfect corner from the left side into the six-yard box, which Simon Christoffersen redirected in just inside the far post with a glancing header.
They fought hard to maintain their lead, thwarting Copenhagen at every turn, but finally conceded both the equalizer and winning goal in rapid succession late in the second half.
In the 73rd minute, the referee judged Andreas Sørensen to have pulled down Copenhagen forward Cesar Santin as the two fought for a ball in the area, allowing Santin to pull the hosts even from the spot.
Barely one minute later, Santin and Bryan Oviedo teamed up on a give-and-go on the left side, with the latter whipping in a low cross which Morten Nordstrand slid in to put away for the 2-1 winner.
Rusin was brought onto the field in the final ten minutes in hopes that his height and aggressiveness on the attack could give their final push an advantage, however the Copenhagen defense held strong to earn the win.
Køge remain in last place, and will close their 2011 schedule on Sunday in front of their home crowd against Clarence Goodson and Brøndby.
Aalborg BK 0 - 2 AGF Aarhus
Chris Rolfe overcame a midweek foot injury to play the full 90 minutes in Aalborg's starting lineup, however was unable to help the team muster any offensive magic as they were shut out by Aarhus on Sunday.
Despite having to contend with heavily gusting winds, Aalborg charged forward to open the game, and were close on several occasions including a Rolfe blast from 22 yards which was just over the crossbar.
Aarhus gradually imposed more of their own mark and dominance on the game, and it eventually paid off with a somewhat fortunate opening goal in the 56th minute.
Martin Jørgensen sent a pinpoint through ball to spring Søren Larsen through the defense. As he charged towards goal with Kjetil Wæhler close in pursuit, Aalborg keeper Nicolai Larsen also rushed off his line in hopes of grabbing the ball. Larsen tried to send in a low shot, which first bounced back off the keeper's hands then again off Wæhler's chest towards goal, where it trickled over the line for the lead.
An open final 30 minutes saw both teams with a multitude of chances, with Rolfe in the thick of the charge for Aalborg, however the visitors added the insurance goal two minutes from the end of full time.
Jørgensen lined up for a 25-yard free kick to the left of center, and placed it perfectly in the upper right corner where it rattled the woodwork on the way into the back netting for the final 2-0 score.
Despite the loss, Aalborg still remain in fifth place, and could still feasibly move into one of the European qualification spots prior to the winter break should they manage to earn the win on their trip to Silkeborg on Saturday.
Conor O'Brien was an unused substitute for SønderjyskE on Sunday afternoon in their 3-1 win at home over Lyngby BK.
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby will look for a second straight win in league play on Monday evening when they host AC Horsens.