Ibrahimovic's Stunning Overhead Kick Caps Incredible Performance vs. England

Tony MabertContributor INovember 14, 2012

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 14:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden celebrates scoring his 4th goal during the international friendly match between Sweden and England at the Friends Arena on November 14, 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

A week ago, Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up all four goals at Paris Saint-Germain, beating Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 in the Champions League.

On Wednesday night he did the same, except this time he scored all four of Sweden's goals against visitors England in a 4-2 victory, which opened the home side's new national stadium with a bigger bang than anyone could have hoped.

The days of fans and media alike in England saying that the cocksure striker never performs against teams from their nation are long gone.

There was his brace against Arsenal in 2010 during his lone season at Barcelona, then last season he orchestrated a 4-0 destruction of the same opponents for AC Milan and now he has left the national side in ruins with their first defeat under Roy Hodgson's management. Even those who sneered from across the English Channel that they could see his immense talent but did not care for his extreme arrogance will now be forced to accept that the former both eclipses the latter and is justifiable cause for it too.

In 19 games for club and country this season, Ibrahimovic has scored 18 goals and registered eight assists (10 and five, respectively, for PSG). The latest step in this brilliant run of form turned what was a surprisingly sedate atmosphere at kickoff to a glorious christening of the Swedish team's sparkling new home.

There is a good chance this is not the first article you have read fawning over the striker's performance—which was capped off by his incredibly audacious bicycle kick from 25 yards out—and it probably won't be the last, but it is well worth revisiting.

England captain Steven Gerrard was the focus of much of the pre-match attention as he became the sixth player to make 100 international caps. Ibrahimovic cheekily tried to hijack this milestone by saying in his pre-match press conference (via ESPN FC) that he would like to see the Liverpool midfielder "at a big international club." England debutants Raheem Sterling, Steven Caulker, Leon Osman and Wilfried Zaha have also garnered plenty of column inches.

But after the inaugural fixture at Stockholm's new Friends Arena, there is only one man everyone is talking about.

The terrible state of the pitch—reportedly the handiwork of the brother of former Arsenal and Sweden midfielder Anders Limpar, who is the groundsman—could not stop Ibrahimovic from winning the turf war with an outstanding individual performance.

The 31-year-old pounced on a loose ball to give the hosts the lead from close range, then scored with a technically excellent chest-and-volley to level the game at 2-2 after strikes from Danny Welbeck and Caulker.

He then drilled low from a free-kick 30 yards out to give Sweden a 3-2 lead, which mirrored the defeat at the hands of England at Euro 2012.

All that would have been enough for him to monopolise the headlines, but, in injury time, Ibrahimovic put the seal on a performance that will live long in the memory. 

Joe Hart, whose continued poor form will again be given less coverage than it might otherwise due to pages of tribute to his conqueror in the Swedish capital, was left stranded after maiming a poor headed clearance. Ibrahimovic instinctively stepped back, swivelled and unleashed a sublime overhead kick that looped over three despairing Englishmen and dropped into the net.

For a player who has had fees totalling upwards of £100 million and who has won multiple league titles in three different countries to still have detractors anywhere is almost an achievement in itself, but there can be few left in England who still harbour any doubts about the level of ability Ibrahimovic possesses.

Not that he cares what anyone else thinks.