One-man show as Ibrahimovic ends hoodoo in spectacular style

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The Independent Online

The travelling support might have derided him – albeit tongue-in-cheek – as a "s*** Andy Carroll" – but when Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in the kind of goalscoring form that England found him in last night, there is no answer to this man.

One hesitates to believe that Carroll could score the kind of goal that Ibrahimovic, right, scored for his fourth last night, even on a PlayStation. On that occasion he beat Joe Hart with an overhead kick from far outside the box after a weak clearance from the England goalkeeper.

The Swedes could scarcely have hoped for a better opening game for their new stadium and England, who took the lead at 2-1, having gone behind, were eager to get home without any more Zlatan-punishment. At times when he has played against England, Ibrahimovic has failed to fire but last night was different.

As for England, Roy Hodgson gave out six debuts last night, to Raheem Sterling, Steven Caulker, Leon Osman and the substitutes Ryan Shawcross, Carl Jenkinson and Wilfried Zaha.

There were goals from Danny Welbeck and Caulker, and for periods of the game England looked the better side. Nevertheless it ended in what Hodgson will consider his first defeat as England manager in 12 games (he does not count the elimination on penalties by Italy at Euro 2012).

When Sweden scored their first, it did not feel like they had enjoyed much of the game attack-wise. Martin Olsson caught Sterling in possession and the Blackburn Rovers midfielder fed the ball to his centre-forward Mathias Ranegie, who returned the ball to Olsson. From the cross, Caulker managed to block Ibrahimovic's first shot but the Sweden captain stabbed the second chance home with his toe.

At that point Caulker was not having one of his best games. But he improved and scored England's second goal in the space of three minutes.

The first showed the qualities that this team do possess when they attack directly and at pace. Sterling picked a lovely pass out to Ashley Young and his cross was nicely steered in by Welbeck. Three minutes later, Sterling won a free-kick on the right and Steven Gerrard's ball to the back post was met by Caulker at close range.

Just after the hour, Jack Wilshere came on for Cleverley for his first England cap since June last year. Then, with 15 minutes remaining, Carl Jenkinson and Ryan Shawcross came on to make it five debuts on the night – Zaha later made it six. Tom Huddlestone replaced Gerrard and within three minutes Sweden had scored an equaliser.

The second goal came when Ibrahimovic pulled away from Shawcross with breathtaking ease and hit a low shot that Hart got a hand to but could not stop. The third from Ibrahimovic was a free-kick drilled low and bouncing over the turf that went to the right of the wall and crept into Hart's left post. It was a bad one to concede and the keeper did not do much better with the fourth that came from a half-hearted header away. With Hart off his line, Ibrahimovic scored with an overhead kick back over the keeper's head.

You have to be very good to do that. As for England, they will have to take what they can from this game and the experience the new boys have accumulated because come March and the game against Montenegro the real business starts.