Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a man who needs no encouragement to make headlines, took all of 19 minutes to establish his MLS legend. The Swede came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for his LA Galaxy debut with his team 3-1 down. He promptly scored a brilliant goal: a dipping, stinging shot over the keeper from 40 yards out. That, of course, wasn’t enough for the man who announced his arrival in MLS by telling the press that “the lion is hungry”. He went on to score the winner in added time as Galaxy beat LA FC in the first ever Los Angeles derby.
“[The fans] were shouting ‘We want Zlatan’. I gave them Zlatan,” he said after the game.
It had appeared that LAFC would win the first ever ‘El Trafico’ – named for the city’s snarled freeways – when Carlos Vela scored twice in the first 30 minutes, and Galaxy were 3-0 just after half-time when Daniel Steres deflected the ball past his own keeper. When Sebastian Lletget pulled one back for Galaxy in the 61st minute it appeared it would be little more than a consolation goal. And then Ibrahimovic took the stage.
He had a part in Galaxy’s second – his cross was deflected and eventually fell to Emmanuel Boateng, who set-up Chris Pontius’s powerful header. The best was yet to come though: in the 77th-minute the ball dropped to the Swede around 40 yards out and he ripped a dipping shot over Tyler Miller in the LAFC goal. Ibrahimovic, who was entitled to be pleased with his afternoon so far, was booked for tearing off his shirt during the ensuing celebrations.
And then came the winner. Another former Premier League player – Ashley Cole – scooped the ball across the six-yard area and Ibrahimovic headed home the winner. There was more of hint of offside but Ibrahimovic had written his own legend. Again.