Sweden 4 England 2: Take Zlat! Ibrahimovic hits four to ruin Gerrard's big night
02:01 GMT, 15 November 2012
Something really annoyed Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It may have been the unkind comparison to Andy Carroll made by England fans or he may have been offended by the sudden rush of so many unfamiliar substitutes.
Whatever it was, he responded by completing his hat-trick and then scored a fourth – quite possibly one of the greatest goals scored by anyone, anywhere in the world.
Joe Hart headed a clearance up rather than away and Ibrahimovic followed it through the air before springing to apply an overhead kick from 30 yards out, wide on the right, which arched over the stranded goalkeeper and into the open goal.
VIDEO: Watch Zlatan Ibrahimovic's wonderful fourth goal
Wonder strike: Ibrahimovic scored a stunning fourth goal to complete Sweden's win
Pure delight: Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his outrageous fourth goal as Sweden beat England
Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig (Sana 73), Granqvist (Antonsson 73), Jonas Olsson, Martin Olsson (Safari 46), Larsson (Jansson 85), Elm, Kallstrom (Svensson 61), Kacaniklic, Ibrahimovic, Ranegie (Wernbloom 89).
Subs Not Used: Hansson, Holmen, Berg, Hamad.
Booked: Granqvist, Ibrahimovic.
Goals: Ibrahimovic 20, 77, 84, 90.
England: Hart, Johnson (Jenkinson 74), Caulker (Shawcross 74), Cahill, Baines, Cleverley (Wilshere 61), Gerrard (Huddlestone 74), Osman, Young (Sturridge 61), Sterling (Zaha 85), Welbeck.
Subs Not Used: Ruddy, Bertrand, Jagielka, Forster.
Goals: Welbeck 35, Caulker 38.
Ref: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway).
If you are looking for the best way
to mark the opening of a national stadium and overshadow Steven
Gerrard's 100th cap and six England debutants, that's not a bad way to
Silence fell as those inside the
Friends Arena held their breath. and watched the flight of the ball.
Then the noise exploded as it landed in the net.
England supporters stood to applaud
the audacity of Sweden's captain. Sometimes it is simply a thrill to
witness such flashes of sporting beauty.
Let us bury forever the notion that
he does not produce against English teams or vanishes on the big
occasion. Ibrahimovic ripped off his shirt, tossed it towards the crowd
and shrugged as he was shown a yellow card.
If the race is on to be known as the
world's third-best player, here was his candidacy. No-one in a white
shirt could match his strength of personality or quality.
No-one had scored a hat-trick against England since Marco van Basten in 1988.
Nobody had ever scored four.
Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in the 20th minute but Roy Hodgson's team
responded well with goals from Danny Welbeck and Steven Caulker to take
a half-time lead.
Captain fantastic: Steven Gerrard led England out on his 100th cap
Opener: Zlatan Ibrahmovic fires Sweden into the lead against England before celebrating (below)
England were still leading 14
minutes from time, when Hodgson handed substitutes Ryan Shawcross, Carl
Jenkinson and Tom Huddlestone front-row tickets for the Ibra Show.
Within seconds, Ibrahimovic escaped Shawcross without trying too hard and slammed an equaliser past Hart.
It was a harsh baptism for the Stoke
defender. Seven minutes later he fired Sweden in front, lashing a
free-kick low into a corner from 35 yards.
Finally, 47 seconds into added time,
his masterpiece. Hart will feel he ought to have done better with the
third, perhaps with the fourth, too, but England, vulnerable at the back
throughout, had gone to pieces.
If, as Hodgson suggested, the game
is assessed in two portions, then the last 15 minutes were a total
disaster and the first 75 offered mild encouragement, an improvement on
last month's performance in Poland.
There was a zip and more threat in
attack but the feeling remained that England were loose, easily
stretched and an accident waiting to happen in defence – even before the
Hodgson handed debuts to six players,
including Wilfried Zaha , Raheem St erling, Jenkinson and Shawcross,
four players with dual nationality.
This non-competitive friendly does not tie them to England but it proves willingness on both sides.
Level pegging: Daniel Welbeck is on hand to tap home England's equaliser
Sterling enjoyed a purple patch
either side of half-time, with flashes of pace and quick feet, but his
naivety was in evidence, too.
Ibrahimovic's first goal in the 20th
minute was launched after Martin Olsson had muscled Sterling off the
ball as he collected a pass from Gerrard.
Olsson charged on down the line, took
a return from Mathias Ranegie and whipped in a low cross. Caulker
managed to smother Ibrahimovic's first effort but the ball spilled
kindly for him to stab a shot past Hart.
This was a taste for the Spurs defender of how the cookie crumbles against the best strikers.
Until that point, Caulker had looked
assured alongside Gary Cahill, a pairing which will have been one of the
key areas of interest for Hodgson as he considers his central defensive
options after John Terry's retirement. But there were alarming examples
The game was only 30 seconds old when Cahill and Hart collided as they raced to mop up a pass aimed towards Mathias Ranegie.
It triggered memories of the game
against Belgium when Cahill broke his jaw in a freak clash with the
England keeper in a friendly in the summer.
The pair got in a tangle again when
Hart ventured from his goal-line, failed to collect and Ranegie wasted
the chance, firing over an empty net.
It was an escape and England stirred,
levelling when Ashley Young supplied an exquisite cross for Welbeck,
who found space between Jonas and Martin Olsson to convert.
Debut strike: Steven Caulker puts England in front in Sweden before he is mobbed by team-mates (below)
Three minutes later and Caulker
bundled in the second at the back post from Gerrard's swerving
free-kick, which was missed by Andreas Granqvist.
Sterling had played an important role
in both goals. He fed the ball to Young on the first and won the
free-kick for the second with an electric dribble.
For all the mobility of Leon Osman,
who performed ably on debut, and Cleverley, England lacked physical
presence in midfield and Ibrahimovic continued to trouble the central
He drifted away from Cahill late in
the first half and would have equalised were it not for a last-ditch
slide by Caulker which deflected his shot over the bar.
Hat-trick hero: Zlatan Ibrahimovic curls home a free kick to put Sweden in front against England
Jonas Olsson blocked from Gerrard and Andreas Isaksson saved from Osman on the turn.
When Ibrahimovic volleyed wide with
his team trailing 2-1, the England fans serenaded him with a chorus of
'You're just a s*** Andy Carroll'.
Jack Wilshere returned after a long
absence from the England team amid a flurry of second-half
substitutions, as did Huddlestone, who replaced Gerrard 16 minutes from
The captain took his place on the bench as a very young team tried to hold out.
Welbeck, with 14 caps, was the most
experienced outfield player. Gerrard had spoken on the eve of the game
about the weight of the England shirt and how he hoped the next
generation might not be saddled with the same thing.
But as he watched them fail their
first test he must have wondered and he must have prayed, along with all
fans, that one of them is able to develop into a talisman like
Ibrahimovic. Either one of them or Andy Carroll.
Bright spark: Raheem Sterling (above) impressed on his debut but Wilfried Zaha was given little time (below)