SOLNA, Sweden – A.I.K hosted IF Elfsborg at Friends, Arena on a sunny Saturday afternoon. With only four points separating both clubs in the Allsvenskan standings A.I.K wanted to put some distance between the visiting Boras, Sweden side. A.I.K was also looking to extend their 9-game unbeaten record (7-0-2). A first half goal from Celso Borges, and a second half marker by Martin Lorentzson after Elfsborg had knotted the game 1-1 through substitute Simon Hedlund proved to be too much for as A.I.K were triumphant with a 2-1 victory over a tired looking, lacklustre Elfsborg squad. Former Toronto FC keeper, and standout Canadian Kyriakos Stamatopoulos shared his thoughts following the match.
“We dominated, we deserved the win, I think that we did really well, and I’m just happy to get the three points.”
Longtime A.I.K hero Daniel Tjernstrom played in his final match with the club as his illustrious 14 year career came to an end. Fans in behind the first half visiting team net unveiled a giant banner which read “King in the land of the black and yellow souls.” Coach Andreas Alm did not start Tjernstrom, and elected to have him come on as a substitute in the second half in the 77′ moments after Lorentzson scored to put A.I.K up 2-1. The 21,882 fans in Friends, Arena erupted with a standing ovation.
The opening goal of the match came in the 18′, when Martin Kayongo-Mutumba delivered a corner that Costa Rican International Celso Borges was able to leap up to and head home past Elfsborg keeper Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard. Sitting on 32 points in the league table A.I.K controlled much of the play in the first half with corner after corner, and shots from distance that curled but could not find the net, they were unlucky to have not scored any other goals. Borges was delighted with the important three points his team was able to pick up against Elfsborg, and his first half goal following the match.
“It was important for everybody. This win keeps us there on the top fighting for a good place. Well Martin has been on fire to be honest with you, he’s been absolutely killing the ball with the set pieces we’ve been practicing for weeks, and it was about time we got a corner there.”
Elfsborg was the second team in the first half, and with this being their first match in the newly constructed enormous Friends, Arena they looked nervous, and dis-jointed. Both teams went into the break with A.I.K holding a slim 1-0 lead over the yellow clad Elfsborg squad.
A.I.K had a brilliant chance to make it 2-0 in the 56′ when strikers Kennedy Igboananike, Henok Goitom were in on the Elfsborg goal with only one opposing defender back. Goitom pulled up and sent a pass over to Igboananike, but the leading A.I.K goal scoring could not score as keeper Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard came rushing out to cut down the shooting angle. Igboananike’s shot was saved by a sliding Ellegaard. Moments later leading assist man Martin Kayongo-Mutumba hit the top of the crossbar with a shot from well out.
Looking to help his team create some much-needed offense, Elfsborg Coach Jorgen Lennartsson brought on substitute Simon Hedlund in the 55′ minute, and that proved to be just what his team needed. Hedlund rescued his team for the time being with a lovely goal in the 70′. Former A.I.K sniper Mohamed Bangura, who was been boooeed relentlessly by the A.I.K. fans setup a give, and go with Hedlund. Once he was one on one with Canadian goal keeper Stamatopoulos, Hedlund beat him low inside the far left post to equalize the match. The A.I.K keeper thought the goal looked to be offside.
“I actually thought it was offside to be honest with you. I haven’t really seen it but it was a good combination by them and it caught us off guard. It was good placement, and a good goal.”
With the crowd in a frenzy after the tying 1-1 goal A.I.K didn’t take long to re take the lead. The always creative Martin Mutumba sent in a cross from the right side of the pitch that found the head of teammate Martin Lorentzson in the maze of players inside the Elfsborg box. The crowd roared as the home side went up 2-1 for the good.
Having played Celtic in Champions League qualifying on Wednesday, July 31 at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Elfsborg looked to be running in quick sand. Whether they were looking ahead to the return match against Celtic after losing the 1st leg 1-0. Elfsborg did not have their heads in the game against A.I.K and that proved costly. A.I.K can now look forward at moving up in the table when they next travel to southern Sweden to take on Malmo.
A.I.K. Starting XI: Kyriakos Stamatopoulos; Martin Lorentzson, Alexander Milosevic, Per Karlsson, Nils-Eric Johansson(C); Celso Borges; Martin Kayongo-Mutumba; Robin Quaison 77 (Daniel Tjernstrom), Nabil Bahoui; Henok Goitom 82 (Robert Persson), Kennedy Igboananike 84 (Alhassan Kamara); (4-1-3-2)
IF Elfsborg Starting XI: Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard; Johan Larsson, Tom Soderberg, Daniel Mobaeck, Andreas Klarstrom; Stefan Ishhizaki 63 (James Keene), Joackim Jorgensen 55 (Simon Hedlund), Anders Svensson(C), Marcus Rohden; Mohamed Bangura, Viktor Claesson 81 (David Elm); (4-4-2)
Notes: During the 27 minute fans chanted Ivan Turina’s name in memory of the A.I.K keeper who died in his sleep because of an undetected heart problem in May. A.I.K will host Manchester United in a friendly at Friends, Arena on Tuesday, August 6.