Adrenaline powers weary Ibrahimovic to dream debut

Zlatan Ibrahimovic from LA Galaxy celebrates after defeating LAFC during their Major League Soccer game at the StarHub Center in Los Angeles, California, on March 31, 2018
AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic said adrenaline carried him through his fairytale debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday after two late goals completed a second half fightback for a dramatic 4-3 win over LAFC.

The 36-year-old Swedish star lashed in a sumptuous 40-yard volleyed lob to level the score at 3-3 before heading home the winner in injury time to spark pandemonium at the StubHub Center.

Ibrahimovic, who only arrived in California on Thursday and had not played since December, admitted he felt exhausted from his match-winning 20-minute cameo after coming on as a substitute in the second half.

“I felt I’d played 40 games for my 20 minutes,” Ibrahimovic said. 

“It was everything – jet lag, didn’t play for a long time. I did the first sprint and I was starting to breathe immediately.

“I was happy when the game finished because I don’t know if I could have played more.”

The former Manchester United star said fatigue had prompted him to attempt his audacious lob for the Galaxy’s third.

“When the second one came, I thought I’ll shoot and not run with the ball. That was the ball that went in,” he said.

“I saw the goalkeeper he was out and I thought I would shoot it over. I chose the power way and it went in and you don’t want the adrenaline to finish. 

“If I had more strength, I would have run all over the pitch, but I just managed the one side of the field.

“Under these weather conditions, it’s not easy. I was asking for sun cream after 10 minutes.”

Ibrahimovic, who has hardly played in the past year during his recovery from a serious knee injury sustained last April, said he had been itching to take the field as Galaxy fell behind by three goals.

– ‘I gave them Zlatan’ –

“I was just waiting to come on because when you’re losing 3-0, the adrenaline is pumping even more because you want to be able to do something for your team in a difficult situation,” he said.

“The fans were demanding something and I gave them Zlatan.”

Ibrahimovic admitted however he would prefer more straightforward games in future.

“The fans enjoy a game like that, but for the players, it’s not so easy because you want to play a game where you have it under control and when you’re winning the game,” he said. “But when you’re losing 3-0 and you win 4-3, it’s fantastic for the fans.”

Ibrahimovic, who collected winners’ medals during previous spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and United, said he hopes to carry on his record of success with the Galaxy.

“This is the start and I just want to be part of Galaxy’s history in MLS,” he said. “This is the first of many games to come.”

Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid meanwhile said the team had weighed playing Ibrahimovic amid concern for his fitness.

“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t do anything that would put him in a situation that could get him injured,” Schmid said, revealing that when Ibrahimovic scored his spectacular first he had turned to his coaches and said: “That’s just world class. You can’t teach that.

“You’ve got to dare to be brilliant and you can’t do anything brilliant unless you dare to be brilliant,” Schmid said.

“Ibrahimovic is the perfect definition of a guy who always dares to be brilliant. If you do that, you can pull off things. That’s a goal that will go around the world.”

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