Soccer: Historical Aalesund triumph at Ullevaal

Photo: www.aafk.no

Aalesund (AaFK) won the Norwegian Cup for the first time after beating Molde (MFK) 5-4 in a penalty shootout at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo on Nov. 7.

By Kjell Olav Strømslie

Despite being down to 10 men AaFK defeated their neighbor MFK in a dramatic ending on Sunday.

“This is fantastic,” said Aalesund coach Kjetil Rekdal. “This was an enormous achievement and showed an enormous will to win,” said Rekdal, who took over head coach last season.

Aalesund nearly took the lead only two minutes into the first half when Molde goalie Lillebakk’s kick-off was met by Aalesund’s Fredrik Carlsen.

Carlsen dispatched the ball to Da Silva who fired off from 18 meter, but the attempt went outside the post. Instead Molde went in front twenty five minutes later. A free kick was curled inside the box and Mame Biriam Diouf won a challenge and poked home the lead. Fredrik Carlsen was sent off receiving his second booking five minutes into the second period.

Against the run of the play, Ålesund struck back four minutes later when the referee omitted to blow on a foul by Molde goalie Lillebakk in the penalty area. Glenn Roberts followed up and rolled the ball calmly into the net. Molde was held to a draw until the whistle was blown. Mame Biriam Diouf put Molde ahead six minutes into the first half of the extension on a power header.

Rekdal throws in Tor Hogne Aarøy a few minutes later in an attempt to restore the parity. He got paid six minutes from time when the tall striker headed home a cross from the right. The game went to a penalty shoot out.

Aalesund keeper Lindegaar gave his team the necessary advantage when he saved Jose Mota’s opener masterly. Aalesund followed up with four clinical finishes before Amund Skiri’s last attempt for Aalesund hit the left post but deflected into the net and settled the drama with 5-4.

After the dramatic ending Rekdal commented that he thought the performance of his players and the coaching of the staff from the bench were outstanding. “We were able to attack with only ten players instead of pulling backwards and that was a big achievement of the team,” he said.

Aalesund earned with the victory a spot in the Europe league next season on the sacrifice of Odd Grenland.

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