'Fantastic' Ibrahimovic back to his best, says Mourinho - European - Football - The Independent

'Fantastic' Ibrahimovic back to his best, says Mourinho

Zlatan Ibrahimovic laid to rest any lingering doubts over his form and fitness with an outstanding display in Internazionale's 2-0 win at Panathinaikos in their Champions League Group B opener on Tuesday.

Although the 26-year-old Swedish striker did not find the target, he did force one superb save from home goalkeeper Mario Galinovic, his all-round performance was outstanding and he laid on the goals for Mancini and Adriano. "He didn't score a goal but for me he did a magnificent job. He played an absolutely fantastic pass [for Adriano]," Inter manager Jose Mourinho said.

Ibrahimovic has been struggling with a knee injury and Mourinho raised concerns about the tall striker representing his country in World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Hungary earlier this month. However, his performance in Athens suggests that he is back to his best, combining a physical presence which dominates defenders and a confident, crisp touch that can produce the kind of killer pass that set up Adriano.

Panathinaikos coach Henk Ten Cate had no doubts about why his team lost the match. "I thought we played fairly well. The decisive aspects were experience and quality – especially the individual qualities," he said.

"I think we played against the best striker of the world right now. He was always there. He is fantastic at holding the ball up and giving his midfielders and fellow players time, that's very important. And the way he provided two goals: OK, we made a mistake on the first one but mistakes like this against players like that are deadly."

Romania plans to naturalise Argentine forward Juan Culio after he stunned Roma with two goals that earned unheralded CFR Cluj a 2-1 win in their Champions League group match. "Culio played brilliantly," Romanian Soccer Federation head Mircea Sandu said yesterday. "I've asked [the soccer authorities] to start getting the necessary documents."

Minutes after Tuesday's Group A match in Rome's Olympic Stadium, Culio said he would be "happy to play for Romania". "Of course, I'll accept if the national team's coach [Victor Piturca] needs me," Culio said. Piturca said: "Several foreigners from CFR Cluj might enter into my sights if they get Romanian citizenship, Culio among them of course."

Sandu said the paperwork needed for Culio's citizenship might take too long for the player to be able to help Romania's World Cup campaign after they lost 3-0 at home in their opening qualifier against Lithuania.

Culio's double for Champions League newcomers Cluj earned him praise in the local media. "Coolio!" said the Pro Sport front-page headline. "It was the greatest surprise ever produced by a debutant team in the Champions League," the article claimed.

In Cluj city centre, some 1,000 fans celebrated until the early hours after the unexpected win by a team which was playing in the third division five years ago.

CFR Cluj executive president Iuliu Muresan praised his foreign players, saying they had brought a winning mentality to the side. Last season, Cluj had 23 foreign players in the squad and only six locals.

"CFR Cluj players showed great character after they managed to fight back and beat Roma in front of an unfriendly crowd, which ended up cheering them," Muresan said.

Culio, who worked as a bricklayer in Argentina to support his family for six years from the age of 13, played for Independiente Buenos Aires in 2005-2006. The 24-year-old came to Cluj from Deportes La Serena of Chile in 2007.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week