‘Impossible’ Ibrahimovic goal hailed by Sweden manager

First published in Sport

Sweden coach Eirik Hamren best summed up Zlatan Ibrahimovic's final act of an astonishing individual performance.

''Sometimes, you think you are looking at a video game where you can do all these incredible things,'' he said.

''The fourth goal is not possible.''

Never again will Ibrahimovic be forced to listen to the criticism that he 'never does it against English teams'.

Not after becoming the first player in history to score four goals against England. Not after that goal.

''When I saw the long ball I saw the goalkeeper come out,'' said the Paris St-Germain forward of his fourth strike of the night. ''I was thinking should I go in the duel or should I wait for him to put it out?

''When he put it out I had it in my mind that I would try to score. It was a nice goal.''

The last bit has to go down as a classic understatement.

To describe an overhead kick sailing into the net from 35 yards as ''nice'' is a bit like saying Marilyn Monroe was decent looking.

Steven Gerrard described it as the best goal he had ever seen. Few in the Friends Arena will disagree with that assessment.

''The fourth goal was the crowning glory,'' said Hodgson. ''It is a wonderful goal. I would rather have seen it against someone else.''

That Ibrahimovic's effort was all anyone really wanted to talk about was harsh on the visitors.

In becoming only the sixth player to win 100 caps for England, Gerrard performed well, scheming from deep as normal and delivering the free-kick from which Steven Caulker became the first debutant to score since David Nugent in 2007.

That first-half goal put England in front after Danny Welbeck had equalised with his fifth goal of the year, putting him top of the scoring charts for 2012.

Others impressed too, particularly 17-year-old Raheem Sterling, who recovered from a tough baptism to produce a courageous display that suggests he has a bright future at this level.

''Raheem has to be very happy,'' said Hodgson.

''He had a difficult start. The first challenge on him was a very fierce one.

"It put him on the ground and winded him.

''But he came through that and got better and better. Towards the end he tired a little as one would expect but I have to be satisfied with what he did.

"He is not even 18, so it bodes well.

''He is a young man with a future. He is a young man with talent.

"Now he has to hone that talent in the Premier League with Liverpool.''

There were other reasons to be cheerful too.

Carl Jenkinson and Wilfried Zaha were two more of Hodgson's six new boys.

Glen Johnson is establishing himself as first-choice right-back with more rounded performances than at any stage of his international career.

Hodgson was sufficiently buoyed to be able to dismiss genuine doubts over Joe Hart, who had another nervy evening.

''We are not bothered about Joe Hart,'' said Hodgson. ''He is a very good goalkeeper. We think we will have a lot of success with him in the goal even if tonight it wasn't maybe one of his best days, this happens.''

But all anyone really wanted to talk about was Ibrahimovic.

So often an enigma to English audiences, Ibrahimovic's reputation across Europe is something different.

Earlier this week, Gerrard was asked how he would mark his international career out of 10.

''Six or seven,'' said the Three Lions skipper.

Last night, the same question was posed of Ibrahimovic. The answer was one word long. And after what he had just done, it was fair enough.

''Ten.''

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