“It may not have been the prettiest goal I’ve ever scored, but it was an important goal.” - Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Rarely do the combination of having a must-win game and seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic score occur at the same instance. Quite the opposite, Zlatan is known as one of world football’s big-time bottlers, a man who goes missing at exactly the point when his team needs him most.
Happily for Swedes though, that wasn’t the case last Saturday as Barcelona’s new mega-money striker found the back of the net at just the perfect time - four minutes into injury-time - to inject new life into the Scandinavians World Cup final dreams.
For much of the game it looked like Zlatan would live up to abject reputation. Wearing the captain’s armband, the number ten fleetingly came in and out of the game without really affecting the play too much.
On the half hour Ibrahimovic fluffed his first chance to hit the target, and that basically was as good as it got for Zlatan in the opening forty-five. After the break though Zlatan started to get far more involved, the striker continuing to miss the target however his influence in the final third was noticeably more effective and dangerous.
And then came the final moment of glory. With Hungary looking to have stolen a point with a late equaliser Sweden launched one last attack. Rasmus Elm played an inch-perfect ball over the top for Zlatan to run onto however the striker’s first touch let the ball drift away from the forward as Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Babos. came charging out of his area. Fortunately though the keeper’s attempted clearance only rebounded off Zlatan, and the ball trickled into the open net for a dramatic winner.
Individual match highlights of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s performance against Hungary can be seen here.