Our favourite Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have only played 53 games for Manchester United, but the Swedish legend left an indelible mark on the Old Trafford faithful.
The former Inter Milan and Barcelona great netted 29 times during his short spell at the Reds, 28 of those coming in the 2016/17 season, when he helped us to EFL Cup glory and laid the platform for our Europa League final triumph in Stockholm.
While, compared to other strikers such as Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there may be comparatively few goals to choose from, our writers have all come up with their own Zlatan favourite.
Who do you agree with most?
ADAM MARSHALL – UNITED V GALATASARAY (FRIENDLY, 2016)
I was fortunate to be in the stadium when Zlatan opened his United account, in a friendly against Galatasaray, in his native Sweden. It was great to see first-hand how charming and accommodating he was at the hotel with the staff beforehand and then, having an instant impact on his debut underlined what a big character and showman he was. The goal was superb, a scissor-kick from an Antonio Valencia's cross, and the crowd erupted when it bounced into the net. It was the highlight of an enjoyable friendly and suggested Zlatan would have no trouble fitting in and showing off his undoubted class.
STEVE BARTRAM – UNITED V LEICESTER (COMMUNITY SHIELD, 2016)
For any new player arriving at United, the pressure to make a quick impact is huge. When you’re a living legend inclined to statements of supreme self-assurance – in Ibrahimovic’s case, taking out a city centre billboard stating ‘Manchester, welcome to Zlatan’ – then that impact needs to be immediate. No problem. It may only have been the Community Shield against Leicester City, but a Wembley showpiece with silverware on offer was the perfect platform for the giant Swede to immediately deliver. With time running out and the score level at 1-1, Valencia looped a cross towards the edge of Leicester’s six-yard box. Skipper Wes Morgan, a defensive monolith in the Foxes’ stunning Premier League title triumph a year earlier, crumbled like crisps under bison as Zlatan towered over him and nodded home not only a winning goal, but also a resounding confirmation of all that would follow.
JOE GANLEY – UNITED V EVERTON (PREMIER LEAGUE, 2016)
An extraordinary character, Zlatan was – and still is – a scorer of outrageous goals. If we were considering non-United efforts, I'd plump for his freakish long-range bicycle kick against England for Sweden in 2012. I genuinely believe that's a contender for the greatest goal of all; there's nothing else like it. But my choice from his United period was his remarkable lob against Everton. I always thought one of the best things about Ibrahimovic was his clever appreciation of timing and space. He'd never rush; he'd look, make a quick judgment, and then work out the precise moment to deliver his finish. That's exactly what he does here: after a quick look at the onrushing Maarten Stekelenburg, he slows down, like a painter drawing back from the canvas, and then gracefully stabs the ball upwards. It's literally inch-perfect, as is quickly made clear, when the ball caresses the bar and falls down wobblingly onto the goal line, before trickling just over, as if to taunt the despairing dive from Toffees defender Ramiro Funes Mori. As a goal, it's just a bit different, and just a bit more unique, than everything else – like Zlatan himself.
PAUL DAVIES – UNITED V BLACKBURN (FA CUP, 2017)
Fresh from scoring a Europa League hat-trick against Saint Etienne in midweek, Zlatan stepped off the bench to stroke home a sumptuous winner against Blackburn Rovers in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Reds had fallen behind to a well worked Danny Graham goal, only for Marcus Rashford to level ten minutes later. But against a spirited host, United were struggling to make their superior ability account and so threw on their leading scorer in the hope of a breakthrough. He duly obliged. Fellow substitute Paul Pogba spotted space behind the Rovers defence and flighted the perfect pass fully 60 yards towards the lurking Ibrahimovic. The striker did the rest, letting the ball bounce once then stroking home on the half-volley on the second bounce. Perfection. The 7,000 Reds fans behind the goal wildly celebrated this latest goal (his 24th of the season) from their Swedish hero.
SAM CARNEY - UNITED V SOUTHAMPTON (EFL CUP, 2017)
With over two decades of the sublime in his locker, it almost feels a shame that we’re limiting our choices to those scored in the red, white and black of United! Zlatan’s lobbed backheel for Sweden against Italy at Euro 2004 and a quite frankly ridiculous solo effort for Ajax where he shimmies and feints his way through virtually the entire opposition are my personal favourites, but if we’re limiting it to MUFC goals, I’d have to go for the towering header against Southampton which clinched the EFL Cup in 2017. After Saints had dragged themselves back into a thrilling final at Wembley, we were all preparing ourselves for the unbearable tension of extra-time. But, moments after clearing off his own goalline, Zlatan marshalled a Red invasion of the opposition half. The Swede held the ball up, waiting for his onrushing team-mates to occupy the retreating Saints defence. As soon as that support had arrived and the ball switched between opposite flanks, he crept, undetected, towards the far post, where he was perfectly positioned to nod home Ander Herrera’s centre. A proper no.9’s goal, just when we needed it most.
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