Ibrahimovic's four-goal burst unites Swedes

Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:17am EST
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By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic's four-goal haul against England has given Swedes a timely reminder of the benefits of their multi-cultural society at a time of increasing support for anti-immigration parties.

"Just call it the Zlatan Arena," wrote newspaper Expressen, after the Swedish captain scored four times - including an incredible angled bicycle kick - that gave Sweden a 4-2 win over England in an international friendly at the new Friends Arena.

His goal spree left coach Roy Hodgson beaten for the first time in 90 minutes as England manager. His only other setback was losing to Italy in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Ibra's goals came from across his broad register of skills - a classic poacher's effort to open the scoring, a second where he chested the ball to himself and volleyed home, a thundering free kick and the bicycle kick in stoppage time that completed the scoring.

The goals also came on the day a politician from the far-right Sweden Democrats was forced to resign after a film showed him using offensive language about immigrants.

Sweden's national soccer team has a number of players of different ethnic backgrounds including Ibrahimovic, who is of Bosnian and Croatian descent.

"They probably weren't happy with that, the idiots," second-half substitute Pontus Wernbloom told newspaper Sportbladet, referring to the Sweden Democrats. "I hope Zlatan shut them up."

His midfield partner Kim Kallstrom also spoke to Sportbladet of Ibrahimovic's value as a role model.   Continued...

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring against England during their international friendly soccer match at the Friends Arena in Stockholm November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble