Sarpsborg salvaged a late draw at home to Malmö and will look for a win in Sweden in a tight Group I.
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Three points separate the four teams in UEFA Europa League Group I, with Nordic rivals Malmö and Sarpsborg having each posted a win, a loss and, most recently, a draw – 1-1 in the teams' first meeting on matchday three in Norway.
• The clubs both recovered from opening away defeats – Malmö at Genk (0-2) , Sarpsborg at Beşiktaş (1-3) – to record home wins on matchday two, Malmö defeating their Turkish visitors 2-0 in Sweden and Sarpsborg overcoming their Belgian opponents 3-1 in Norway. Two late goals – the first from Malmö's Andreas Vindheim, the second from Sarpsborg's Ole Jørgen Halvorsen – kept the Scandinavian duo neck and neck at the halfway point of the group stage.
• This is new terrain for both clubs in UEFA competition as before their first meeting Sarpsborg had never previously faced Swedish opposition, nor had Malmö come up against a club from neighbouring Norway.
• Swedish champions for a record 20th time in 2017, Malmö began this season's European campaign in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round. Their bid to reach the group stage of that competition for the third time in five years was checked on the away goals rule by Hungarian champions Vidi in the third qualifying round but they secured an autumn of European participation – as Sweden's sole representatives – by prevailing in another all-Scandinavian affair against Danish title holders Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League play-offs. Their eight qualifying matches brought four wins and four draws.
• Malmö's only previous UEFA Europa League group stage involvement was in 2011/12, when they opened with a 4-1 defeat at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and never recovered, finishing bottom of the section with just one point.
• The 2-0 win against Beşiktaş ended a run of three successive home draws in Europe for Malmö. They are unbeaten in their last six continental home games, but the last time they lost – 0-5 against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League – it constituted the club's heaviest home defeat in UEFA competition.
• Formed in 2008, Sarpsborg enjoyed the best season of their short history in 2017, finishing third in the Eliteserien and reaching the final of the Norwegian Cup. The league position secured European involvement for the first time, and they have made the most of the opportunity, progressing all the way from the first qualifying round to the group phase.
• After kicking off their European debut with a 6-0 aggregate win over Iceland's ÍBV, Sarpsborg used the away goals rule to get past Switzerland's St Gallen before overcoming Rijeka of Croatia 2-1 over two legs and then seeing off Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the play-offs (3-1 home, 1-2 away).
• Sarpsborg's five away fixtures in Europe have yielded two wins and three defeats. They have scored in all of those matches.
Links and trivia
• Malmö coach Uwe Rösler was a player and coach with Lillestrøm and has also been in charge at fellow Norwegian clubs Viking and Molde.
• Vindheim has represented Norway at youth and Under-21 levels and started his career in Bergen with Brann. Other players from the Swedish side to have played in Norway are Johan Dahlin (Lyn 2006–09), Arnór Ingvi Traustason (Sandnes Ulf 2012) and Bonke Innocent (Lillestrøm 2014–17), while Sarpsborg's Harmeet Singh played for Swedish club Kalmar in 2017.
• This is Malmö's tenth game in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final – a record for a Swedish club.
• With one game remaining in the 2018 Allsvenskan, Malmö are currently outside the European qualifying places in fourth position, but they could climb to third and requalify for the UEFA Europa League with a home win against Elfsborg on Sunday.
• Sarpsborg are one of four clubs who began their successful journey to the UEFA Europa League group stage in the first qualifying round, the others being Apollon Limassol, FC København and Rangers. They are also one of five making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper, along with Akhisar, Dudelange, Jablonec and Spartak Trnava.
• Born in the former East Germany, Uwe Rösler left his homeland in 1994 to play up front for Manchester City, which he did for four years, thus forming a bond with English football that has brought him back to the country to manage four different lower-league clubs. His coaching career began in Norway, with Lillestrøm, his final club as a player, and in June 2018 he returned to Scandinavia to become the new head coach of reigning Swedish champions Malmö.
• A coaching career spent exclusively in his native Norway peaked for Geir Bakke when the Sarpsborg side he has led since January 2015 finished third in the 2017 Eliteserien to qualify for a first crack at European football and subsequently negotiated four qualifying ties to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage. Prior to joining Sarpsborg he was the assistant to Tor Ole Skullerud as Molde claimed their first Norwegian league and cup double in 2014.