Rosenborg lose a showpiece game in front of a near-capacity crowd.
The last time my Dad came to Norway back in 2013 I took him to his first game at Trondheim’s Lerkendal Stadium. A well-drilled Stabæk side ran out comfortable 3-1 winners to spoil Rosenborg’s 16th of May party. For those new to Norway, the 16th of May series of games is a tradition akin to the UK’s Boxing Day fixture list. The 17th of May is Norway’s Constitution Day, and there’s always a full set of Premier League fixtures the night before.
It’s one of the most popular fixtures of the season. When Rosenborg play at home, they offer discounted (maybe free, I’m not sure) tickets to the graduating students known as Russ, which helps ensure a near-capacity crowd and a party atmosphere.
My parents once again visited in May so this year we thought we’d try the trick again. This time Rosenborg were clear at the top of the league and facing a Tromsø side with average results so far this season. With more than 21,000 people in attendance, the vast majority cheering on the home side, surely history wouldn’t repeat itself?
Oh but it did!
Despite creating some good early chances and even taking the lead through Vilhjálmsson, Rosenborg couldn’t capitalise and Tromsø slowly found their confidence and came into the game. With just minutes before the break Rosenborg switched off and a speedy low cross from Gjermund Åsen was turned in by Mikael Ingebrigtsen. Tromsø almost snatched the lead a minute later as their Icelandic midfielder Aron Sigurdarson was put through on goal, but Rosenborg keeper Hansen got down well to block.
I fully expected Rosenborg to come out all guns blazing for the second half and although they huffed and puffed, there was a notable lack of creative skill in all areas of the field. Although Rosenborg goalscorer Matthías Vilhjálmsson was awarded Man of the Match, he was guilty of missing two good chances for the home side. Both me and my Dad agreed (and that is a rare occurrence when it comes to football) that Norway international midfielder and Rosenborg captain Anders Konradsen was the standout player, but his runs and ideas were all too frequently misunderstood by his teammates.
The real shocker came from Nicklas Bendtner. His performances since joining Rosenborg this season have divided opinion, but there was no doubt about his contribution in this match – virtually nothing aside from picking up a yellow card. He seemed disinterested throughout, unwilling to make runs to create space for himself or others, and gave away possession in dangerous positions several times.
Although Rosenborg created chances, Tromsø continued to do the same, so it was no real surprise when with five minutes to go, Sigurdarson gave the visitors all three points with an excellent flicked finish.
After a flying start to the season, Rosenborg are stuttering.