The Black and Yellows ended the domestic season in the Swedish Allsvenskan league three weeks ago. Last season's champions finished third this time. The 2-1 defeat on the final matchday against IF Brommapojkarna did not affect the final positions. Häcken were more or less certain of finishing in third place. That puts them in the qualifying round for the UEFA Europa League. Coach Per-Mathias Högmo summed up the season: "We played some very good football in the spring and summer. Our performances were too inconsistent after the summer. This year we didn't deserve to finish higher than third place but I think it is acceptable under the circumstances and with all the success we have had." Häcken won the domestic cup competition in 2023 in addition to the championship last year. And reaching the group stage of the Europa League was also a great achievement for the club.
In the end, Häcken were unable to compete in the title race in the Allsvenskan but they did play an important role in the outcome of the the league campaign. The Högmo team beat title favourites Malmö FF 4-2 at home on the penultimate matchday. The stand-out player for the hosts was the 18-year-old midfielder Pontus Dahbo who scored two goals. Malmö were lucky that title rivals and league leaders Elfsborg only managed to draw 2-2 in their home game. Swedish record champions Malmö were able to secure their 23rd league title with a 1-0 victory over Elfsborg on the final matchday of the season. The winner was scored by a familiar face in Leverkusen: Isaac Kiese Thelin played for Bayer 04 for a year in the 2018/19 season (14 games, one goal).
Häcken are bottom of the table in Group H of the Europa League with no points to date. The opening 4-0 defeat away to the Werkself was followed by a 1-0 loss against Qarabag at home and then two defeats (1-5, 1-3) against Molde. Together with TSC Backa Topola, group opponents for SC Freiburg, Häcken have conceded 13 goals and that is the equal highest of all the 32 teams participating in the competition.
In the match at the BayArena two months ago the Werkself were on top early and went 2-0 up with goals from Florian Wirtz (10') and Amine Adli (16'). Victor Boniface (66') and Jonas Hofmann (70') extended the lead to 4-0 for the clearly superior hosts.
The Swedish team, less prolific in the Europa League, scored the highest number of goals in the Allsvenskan (69). On the European stage Häcken have had relatively few shots on goal but there is also room for improvement in converting chances.
As Häcken have not played another game since 12 November, the team prepared for the match against Bayer 04 with a friendly last Friday. The Black and Yellows beat Norwegian second division team Kongsvinger IL 2-1 at home at the Ullevi in Gothenburg. Experienced player Mikkel Rygaard opened the scoring for the Swedes, striker Ola Kamara netted the winner at 2-1 just before the end of the game. "I think we played well," said assistant coach Jesper Ljung. "We used the game to get the feel for the Ullevi again before next Thursday but also to fine tune some tactical details we worked on during the week."
The 18-year-old striker Momodou Sonko played in the friendly a couple of days after being voted Youth Player of the Year in 2023 in Sweden. Sonko scored seven goals in 23 games in the Allsvenskan and he also provided four assists. He has also scored one of the two Häcken goals in the Europa League this term.
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