Match Report: Sensational Ibrahimovic plays 'video games' with England kids

Sweden 4 England 2

The Friends Arena

As a riposte to the England fans who sang, albeit tongue-in-cheek, that he was a “s*** Andy Carroll”, the overhead kick that Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored last night was up there with the very best. And his other three were not bad either.

One hesitates to believe that, even on a PlayStation, poor old Carroll could score the kind of bicycle kick that Ibrahimovic struck for his fourth goal last night. The two strikers share a fondness for the ponytail and a reputation for being difficult to manage at times but there the comparison ends. Although in Carroll's defence there are very few who could do what Ibrahimovic did last night.

His fourth goal was the best of the lot, hit from outside the box over Joe Hart after the goalkeeper had failed to clear the ball with a header. "Sometimes when you see him do these things you don't think it is possible," said the Sweden coach, Erik Hamren. "It can feel like you are watching a video game."

No player has ever scored four goals against England before. One would be tempted to say that few have scored a better goal against England, Diego Maradona's second in 1986 aside. Even Steven Gerrard was moved to say that the fourth from Ibrahimovic was "the best goal I have seen live". It was the kind of goal that only a great player brimming with confidence would attempt.

Asked in the aftermath of the game to give his Sweden career a mark out of ten, just as Gerrard had been asked to do for his England career earlier in the week, Ibrahimovic deadpanned "10" in response. At least it might have been a joke, but when you have played as well as he had done, he could have been talking seriously.

And then there was England. Roy Hodgson made six substitutions and gave out six debuts, as many as Sven Goran Eriksson did on that infamous night against Australia in February 2003 when the then-England manager made 11 substitutions. The changes contributed to England throwing away a 2-1 lead in the last 12 minutes but it also needed Ibrahimovic's brilliance in front of goal.

The debutants were Raheem Sterling, Steven Caulker and Leon Osman, who started the game, and Ryan Shawcross, Carl Jenkinson and Wilfried Zaha who came on as second-half substitutes. Caulker scored England's second goal but Sterling was the pick of the bunch with a confident display and a telling pass in the move that led to Danny Welbeck's opener.

It has been a steep rise for the 17-year-old who only just broke into the Liverpool first team this season and he seems capable of holding his own, even when flattened early in the game by a heavy challenge. "As a coach, I've got to be satisfied with what he did," Hodgson said. "He's a young man with a future, a young man with talent. He's got to hone that talent with Liverpool."

It was less easy for the players who came on in the second half, especially Shawcross who was left trailing in the wake of Ibrahimovic when he turned sharply away from the Stoke City man on the edge of the area before beating Hart for the second. Shawcross can console himself that if you are going to be beaten by someone, it might as well be the man who won eight European league titles in a row.

As for Hart himself, this was not his finest night. He would have had to have been at his best to stop Ibrahimovic but he was a way off that. The third from the free-kick was perhaps the softest, given that it crept in the far post. The fourth was beautifully executed but Ibrahimovic would not have had the opportunity had Hart not headed the ball into no-man's land.

The big test awaits in three matches' time when England go to Podgorica to play Montenegro for what will be their sixth World Cup qualifier in March. So far Hodgson has used 44 different players over six months in his 12 games in charge although he considers last night only his first defeat as England manager (he does not count the elimination on penalties at the hands of Italy at Euro 2012 as falling into that category).

It ended with that goal from Ibrahimovic but for most of the game the opening match in the new £260m Friends Arena was a strange affair. With the roof closed and the air warm the atmosphere was non-existent. Built with economic, modern Swedish design and with very little noise from the home fans it was not unlike a quiet mid-week afternoon in Ikea.

On 20 minutes, the Blackburn Rovers midfielder Martin Olsson caught Sterling in possession and fed the ball into centre-forward Mathias Ranegie, who returned the ball to Olsson. From the cross, Caulker managed to block Ibrahimovic's first shot but he stabbed the second chance in with his toe.

At that point Caulker was not having one of his best games. Nervy on the ball he allowed Ibrahimovic to out-muscle him in one situation; then he misplaced a pass that went into touch. But he improved and scored England's second goal in the space of three minutes.

The first was nicely made and showed the qualities that this England team possess when they attack directly and at pace. Sterling picked a lovely pass out to Ashley Young on the left and he pulled away from full-back Mikael Lustig with ease. At the back post his cross was steered in Welbeck.

Three minutes later, Sterling won a free-kick on the right and Gerrard's ball to the back post was met by Caulker for the first goal by an England debutant since David Nugent scored against Andorra in 2007.

Jack Wilshere came on after the hour for his first game in an England shirt since June last year and Tom Huddlestone won his first cap in more than two years. Osman's near-post shot was England's best second-half chance and then after the substitutions came Ibrahimovic's grand intervention.

He evaded Shawcross for the second and hit a low shot from substitute Anders Svensson's pass that Hart got a hand to but could not stop. The third was a free-kick drilled low and bouncing over the turf that went to the right of the wall. Then came the glorious fourth. Shawcross almost got it off the line but you did not have to be a Swede to be glad that he did not quite get there.

Zlat's magic! Ibrahimovic's sensational overhead kick

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has long been criticised for his poor record against English sides but he struck back with a vengeance last night. Having already secured the match ball, the 31-year-old served up the coup de grâce in injury time.

Taking advantage of Joe Hart's poor headed clearance 10 yards outside the penalty area, Ibrahimovic waited for the ball to drop. Then leaping up and twisting his body in mid-air, he struck an audacious overhead kick, his effort looping over the stranded Hart and into the unguarded net, beating Ryan Shawcross's attempt to clear.

Man of the match Ibrahimovic.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee S O Moen (Nor).

Attendance 49,967.

England off the top

England's woes accumulated as they also lost top spot in their World Cup qualification group last night. Montenegro beat San Marino 3-0 to move two points clear.

Group H


Montenegro 4/3/1/0/12/2/10

England 4/2/2/0/12/2/8

Poland 3/1/2/0/5/3/5

Moldova 4/1/1/2/2/7/4

Ukraine 3/0/2/1/1/2/2

San Marino 4/0/0/4/0/16/0

England results Moldova 0-5 England; England 1-1 Ukraine; England 5-0 San Marino; Poland 1-1 England.

England remaining fixtures

22 Mar 2013 San Marino (a), 26 Mar Montenegro (a), 6 Sept Moldova (h), 10 Sept Ukraine (a), 11 Oct Montenegro (h), 15 Oct Poland (h).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower