Sports Digest: Gothenburg Angels answer fans' prayers
AFP/The Local · 29 Oct 2007, 11:41
Published: 29 Oct 2007 11:41 GMT+01:00
IFK Göteborg, nicknamed The Angels (Änglarna), have won the Swedish title for the first time in eleven years. A 2-0 win over Trelleborg was enough to bring the trophy back to Gothenburg and banish bitter memories from earlier this year.
IFK began the season as a club in crisis. A financial scandal led to convictions for two prominent former board members and there was little talk of the Gothenburg side as potential championship winners.
But when striker Marcus Berg hit a rich vein of form, scoring 14 goals in 17 appearances, there were some who suddenly dared to believe. Berg's transfer in August to Dutch club Groningen could have come at a better time but by then the westerners had found their rhythm and the goals continued to flow.
Coming into the final week of the season, IFK knew they needed to win both their remaining games. A hotly disputed goal by Mattias Bjärsmyr gave them a vital three points away to AIK last Monday before goals from Thomas Olsson and Pontus Wernbloom finished off Trelleborg in front of a capacity crowd at Ullevi.
The Angels can be expected to shed tears of joy when they congregate at Götaplatsen at 5pm on Monday to celebrate a return to the heavenly heights to which they were once well-accustomed.
Gothenburg's nearest rivals had mixed fortunes on the final day.
Kalmar kept the pressure on with a 2-0 win at home to AIK, securing the team second place and a hard-earned UEFA Cup spot.
For Djurgården meanwhile, the season ended as it began, with a 1-0 defeat against Brommapojkarna. Despite doing the double over their local rivals, however, Brommapojkarna failed to avoid relegation in their first season ever in the top flight.
Daniel Chopra, Fredrik Jacobson and Shigeki Maruyama were tied for the lead in the Ginn Classic on Sunday when the final round was halted by darkness at Port St. Lucie in Florida.
The trio will have to return on Monday morning to battle for the title in the $4.5 million, which was thrown off schedule by heavy rains earlier in the week.
Sweden's Chopra and Jacobson and Japan's Maruyama were all at 18-under par, Maruyama and Jacobson through 16 holes and Chopra through 15.
Dicky Pride was in the clubhouse on 16-under 267, after a nine-under 64 in the fourth round.
Chopra, seeking his first US tour win, moved as low as 19-under through eight holes - when he led Maruyama by three strokes.
But he had given back two shots on the back nine when play was stopped.
"It was a tough back nine," Chopra said. "I missed a putt on the 10th hole. I didn't feel very comfortable after that. It was all a bit of a struggle. And I got some horrible lies in the rough. I got a couple of weak drives and managed to get up and down on the greens to keep myself where I'm at."
Chopra had to play seven holes early Sunday to complete his third round, and he went into the final round with a two-stroke edge.
Maruyama started his round with three straight birdies, but couldn't maintain the momentum.
He gave back shots at eight and 12, but reapplied the pressure with a birdie at 15 and an eagle at 16 that gave him a share of the lead.
At 137th on the money list, Maruyama is vying to move up into the top 125 and secure his playing privileges for next year.
"I was actually not trying to get into the top 125, I was trying to finish 150," Maruyama said. "Luckily, I have a chance this week to finish 125."
Pride had seven birdies and an eagle without a bogey in his round.
He jumpstarted his round with an eagle at the second, and nabbed two more birdies before the turn. He picked up a shot at the 10th, then capped his round with four birdies in a row.
While the PGA Tour season won't end until next week's stop in Orlando, Florida, big names such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have already started their vacations.
Anja Pärson's World Cup season got off to a disappointing start on Saturday when she could only manage a 7th place finish in the giant slalom at Solden in Austria. Italy's Denise Karbon won the season's opener.
There were two Swedish podium finishes on the artificial snow in Düsseldorf on Saturday.
Björn Lindh came in second behind Germany's Josef Wenzl in the men's freestyle sprint.
The women's sprint was won by Russia's Natalia Matveeva in front of the
hotly fancied Norwegian Marit Bjorgen with Anna Dahlberg of Sweden in third.