Thousands cheer Aalesund’s victory

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Around 10,000 football fans filled the streets of the west coast city of Ålesund Sunday night to welcome home their returning heroes, after Aalesund’s Football Club won the Norwegian cup final in Oslo earlier in the day. They beat Brann of Bergen by a score of 2-1.

“This was a fantastic presentation by my players, who carried out what we planned,” coach Kjetil Rekdal told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).  Rekdal, a former football star himself who’s often criticized for being arrogant, seemed careful on Sunday to give credit for the sought-after cup victory to his players, and not himself.

The party could begin
After receiving their trophy from King Harald at Norway’s packed national stadium at Ullevaal in Oslo, the partying began. After enjoying the roar from the crowd, the team headed for their victory banquet before finally heading home to Ålesund, where the celebrations were likely to go on all night.

Oslo was crowded during the weekend with fans from both Bergen and Ålesund, and Oslo police had some challenges maintaining order in the downtown area late Saturday night. Several fights broke out, but Rekdal said he was keen on maintaining orderly celebrations by the players themselves.

“I think we’ll be fairly free but we’ll try not to get too smashed,” player Fredrik Ulvestad told NRK. Rekdal said it was important to celebrate, “but we won’t have any nonsense, it will be respectable partying.”

Møre og Romsdal best
Aalesund’s victory cements Møre og Romsdal as the county in Norway with the best football this year, after nearby Molde won the league championship earlier this week. Asked whether Møre og Romsdal is “Football County Number One” in Norway right now, Rekdal responded without hesitation: “Yes, this year it is.” He’s originally from Romsdal himself.

Brann of Bergen was widely viewed as underperforming on Sunday. “It’s not my job to evaluate the opposition from Brann, but they ran into trouble with us,” Rekdal said. “We held a grip around their necks quite strongly through almost the entire match.”

Rune Skarsfjord of Brann seemed to agree. “We delivered a very bad match,” he told NRK. “This was not our day, unfortunately.”

Michael Barrantes, originally from Costa Rica, was Aalesund’s biggest hero on Sunday, with two spectacular goals that won the match after a season of strong play that helped get Aalesund to the cup final in the first place. Team captain Daniel Arnefjord was among those lauding Barrantes’ play, adding that “it felt like we had full control.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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