Start down after relegation drama

Football Start HaugesundAdeleke Akinyemi (Start, right) celebrates after the 1-0 goal in the football match between FK Haugesund and IK Start at Haugesund Stadium. Photo: Jan Kåre Ness / NTB Scanpix

Start relegated after dramatic final round

After Stabæk tying with Strømsgodset, Start had to beat Haugesund to secure the place in the top division (Eliteserien) football in Norway. But with a 3-1 loss in Haugesund, the southern team must endure the tedious trip down to the OBOS league (1st division).


The situation was as follows before the last round on Saturday: Sandefjord was already relegated to the 1st division regardless. Stabæk (28 points), Start (29), Lillestrøm (29) and Strømsgodset (30) all fought against direct relegation, with Bodø/Glimt a ”dark horse” contender for qualification.

During the last 90 minutes of Eliteserien 2018, Stabæk, Strømsgodset and Start were at one point in the relegation zone. But while Stabæk and Strømsgodset escaped scot-free, Haugesund cost Start the place in the Sun.

– I don’t know what to say. We have given everything in all of the matches. I’m terribly disappointed. It is completely indescribable. It’s an empty feeling. They get a shitty goal after a set piece. It’s heavy now, Simon Larsen tells Eurosport after the match.

– That’s too poor. We relegate. We can only blame ourselves, he continues.

«Mos» joy

Mostafa «Mos» Abdellaoue also made sure that the Drammen team escaped the qualifier when he secured 2-2 for Strømsgodset against Stabæk three minutes into injury time away at Nadderud in Bærum.

– It’s a wonderful feeling. It is an absolutely indescribable feeling to score the last goal, the 2 goal man tells NTB.

The dramatic goal ensures the Bærum team qualification for next year.

– We are disappointed that we don’t win when we lead two minutes into injury time and possession of the ball. That it ends in a draw is no bombshell, but when we lead so near to the final whistle, it’s obviously not cool. But, at the end of the day, we much rather face a qualifier than direct relegation, Stabæk coach Henning Berg informs NTB.

IK Start was the first bottom team to rejoice on Saturday when the new signing, Adeleke Akinyemi, punished a somewhat passive Haugesund defence after 12 minutes of play.

Five minutes later, the reports came in that Franck Boli had scored on a penalty, albeit after a slightly dubious decision, but that meant nothing to neither Stabæk nor Start supporters.

In heaven for 15 minutes

When Lillestrøm’s great hero, Arnór Smárason, hammered in the lead against Kristiansund accompanied by goals ticking in at Nadderud, there was also cheering among the home fans in Bærum.

Stabæk was in heaven for 15 minutes, but when this autumn’s player on form, Mustafa «Mos» Abdellaoue, was played through to face the keeper in a single battle, the Bærum team found itself in the relegation zone.

Henning Berg had to deliver a pep-talk during halftime with the certainty that the current result did not suffice for a renewed top series contract. It didn’t take long before his call to arms was answered. Aboubakar Keita headed in 2-1 for Stabæk, and two minutes later, Nadderud’s home supporters had even more reasons to rejoice: Haugesund’s David Akintola equalized to 1-1 against Start.

When Ibrahima Wadji did everything on his own accord and entered the scoreboard, things looked gloomy for Kjetil Rekdal’s selection.

The South Norwegians had either turn the match around themselves – or pray to higher powers that Strømsgodset would turn the tables and win at Nadderud. They could also hope that Kristiansund added fuel to the furnace against Lillestrøm to beat them thoroughly, but Start’s prayers were ignored.

Stabæk must qualify

Instead, Wadji put away his second of the day and pushed the southerners even farther into the bog.

With five minutes left, Thomas Lehne Olsen headed Lillestrøm (LSK) to yet another top-shelf season.

– Winning together as a team, at Åråsen – the significance of this match – there are few things beating that, LSKs Frode Kippe tells NTB.

Three minutes into injury time in Bærum, long after all the other matches were decided, Abdellaoue made sure that it was Stabæk who faces qualifiers instead of Strømsgodset.

Now I’m just disappointed and sorry. We have no choice. We must forget this as soon as possible. We have been provided with another opportunity. We are not satisfied, the boys are completely devastated, but we could be Start, Ohi Omoijuanfo tells NTB after the match.

IK Start must take the trip down to the 1st division, while Stabæk must qualify against the winner of the pre-qualifier. Henning Berg must read up on Aalesund, Nest-Sotra, Sogndal and Ull / Kisa, which are their potential opponents.

Bodø/Glimt could, in the worst case scenario, wound up in the qualifying spot, but with a loss for Strømsgodset and a draw for them against Rosenborg, Glimt avoided that.

Champions Rosenborg rounded off with a draw

Rosenborg is ready for gold celebrations even though a goal bonanza wasn’t on the cards against Bodø/Glimt in the last round of the top division (Eliteserien) in football. At the same time, the visitors could rejoice for a renewed contract after a 1-1 draw.

The last time Rosenborg did not throne the Eliteserie was in 2014 when Brann was the Norwegian champions. With a victory against Start in the previous round, RBK secured its fourth straight championship and could celebrate their 26th title.

With the gold safely in the pocket, everything was the laid out for the celebratory lap and subsequent party at Lerkendal in the final league match. Accompanied by golden confetti, the Trondheimers entered the pitch to provide the home fans in Trondheim with a final performance against Glimt.

No celebratory performance

However, there was no celebratory performance at Lerkendal. Rosenborg chased goals to please the audience, while Bodø/Glimt had far more at stake. The northerners hunted at least one point to secure a prolonged stay in the major league. The first half was nonetheless boring and without big goal chances for either team.

After the goalless first half, Ulrik Saltnes gave the Glimt supporters something to cheer for after half an hour’s play of the second. Kristian Fardal Opseth won an important head duel that ended up with Saltnes, who was on a great run and put the ball away in an exquisite manner.

But Bodø/Glimt did not enjoy the lead for long, because only three minutes later, Yann-Erik de Lanlay equalised after a corner. As the second half progressed, neither Bodø/Glimt nor RBK provided any more goals at Lerkendal in Trondheim. When the referee blew the final whistle after five minutes of stoppage time, the score remained at one goal apiece.

– It is not that it was a bad game as we had enough chances to win today, but sometimes you do not get what you deserve. We must accept one point, but it’s no spectacular match, Rosenborg’s coach Rini Coolen says afterwards.

Football: Top Division (Eliteserien) men

Results, last round

Brann – Odd10
Haugesund – Start31
Lillestrøm – Kristiansund20
Rosenborg – Bodø/Glimt11
Sandefjord – Molde13
Stabæk – Strømsgodset22
Tromsø – Sarpsborg02
Vålerenga – Ranheim21


Final Table



© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today