Rosenborg qualifies for Europa League

The Norwegian club managed to beat Ajax, kicking Amsterdam out of the running

Soccer player Samuel Adegbenro celebrates after scoring a goal.

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG
Samuel Adegbenro celebrates after scoring one of his goals.

Jo Christian Weldingh
Oslo, Norway

Last season’s UEFA Europa League finalists Ajax went out in the qualifying rounds as Rosenborg beat them 4-2 on aggregate to reach the group stage.

Almost everyone lost faith in Rosenborg’s Europa League venture when Lasse Schöne put Ajax in the lead (2-1) after 60 minutes of play in the August 24 match. But that was before Rosenborg’s fresh signing, Samuel Adegbenro, entered the pitch. Ten minutes before full time, he headed Yann-Erik de Lanlay’s cross into the top corner. Then, two minutes into injury time, he dribbled past half of Ajax’s defensive line and fired the ball into the bottom corner. Rosenborg beat Ajax 3-2 in Trondheim, 4-2 on aggregate.

“It’s amazing. It feels great to qualify for the Europa League,” Adegbenro told the press after the match. “It’s exactly what the coach and I talked about before I came here.”

Rosenborg coach Kåre Ingenbrigtsen was just as happy. “I would say he was an okay signing,” he said with a smile, speaking about Adegbenro. With his two goals against Ajax, he has paid back his transfer fee of 14 million kroner many times over.

Adegbenro’s goals were exactly what Rosenborg needed. They had won the away match in Amsterdam 1-0 on August 17 and started the game in Trondheim in a positive manner. Even though Ajax started the game best, having a couple of big chances in the first ten minutes, Rosenborg got the first goal. Fredrik Midtsjø freed himself on the right flank and crossed the ball towards Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner made no mistakes and headed the ball into the net. 1-0, 2-0 on aggregate.

But after an hour of play, Rosenborg let Ajax through their defensive line a little too easily two times in a row. First when Amin Younes lobbed the ball past an otherwise great André Hansen, and then in the next attack, when Younes crossed the ball to an unmarked Lasse Schöne. 2-0 (on aggregate) in favor of Rosenborg had suddenly become 2-2 and Ajax was through to Europa League because of the somewhat controversial away goal rule.

“We needed one goal,” coach Ingebrigtsen explained afterwards. “We had to attack.” And attack they did—a tactic that resulted in two Adegbenro goals and advancement through to Europa League.

Since his arrival, Adegbenro has played two matches against Ajax and scored three goals. “I hope I will be able to continue like this. Three chances, three goals; we’ll see how it goes. It’s all about the team, not about me. I was just the lucky one who got to score the goals,” he told the press after the match.

In the stands the Rosenborg crowd went crazy applauding their new hero, while the away fans from Amsterdam had to travel home knowing that Ajax had failed to win a European match in a season for the first time since 1991.

With the double victory over Ajax, Roseborg is ready for Europa League, where they will face Zenit from Russia, Real Sociedad from Spain, and Vardar from Macedonia.

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, but is currently living in Oslo. He has a BA in Archaeology from The University of Oslo and a BA in Business Administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 22, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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