STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - In a town built on blockbuster movies, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrote an ending beyond even the wildest dreams of Hollywood, announcing his arrival at Los Angeles Galaxy with a stunning volley and a late winner against Los Angeles FC.
The latter were 3-1 up in the MLS game when the crowd bellowed the name of their new number nine and Ibrahimovic, who signed last week on a free transfer after being released by Manchester United, wasted no time making his mark after coming on as a 71st-minute substitute.
His first touches led indirectly to Galaxy’s second goal before he unleashed one of his trademark long-range volleys, belting the ball in an arc over Tyler Miller for the equaliser before ripping off his shirt to celebrate.
“You saw early that he was thinking of shooting, and I thought, it’s gonna go in - it’s Zlatan, it’s gonna go in,” former Galaxy midfielder Stefan Ishizaki, who covered the game for Eurosport, told Reuters.
Not content with that, the 36-year-old threw all he had into a brave header to steal all three points for his side in stoppage time, completing one of the most stunning debuts in MLS history.
“His touch, his movement - he’s not fully physically fit, but he decides the derby from the moment he comes in. He’s a magical soccer player,” said Ishizaki, who made his debut Sweden debut alongside Ibrahimovic in 2001.
“He was a huge talent, back then he did things mostly on his own but now he reads the game in a completely different way and gets in much better positions,” he added.
“Just that he went there (to Galaxy) means so much. A big star like that attracts media, shirt sales, ticket sales - just the name Zlatan generates so much for Galaxy,” Ishizaki said.
Another former MLS Swede marvelling at Ibra’s show was ex-San Jose Earthquakes striker Henok Goitom, who expressed his sympathy for goalkeeper Miller while praising his country’s greatest goal-scorer of all time.
“Against great players, you have to be ready for anything - they play so much faster than anyone else,” Goitom told Reuters, adding that Ibrahimovic took the risk of being knocked out when heading the winner that sent Swedes in front of their TVs into raptures.
“You always feel a sense of pride when a Swede does well out in the wider world,” Goitom said.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond