Zlatan Ibrahimovic added Major League Soccer to a long list of competitions he has had an instant impact on with his debut brace for LA Galaxy on Saturday, playing a starring role in an incredible 4-3 win.
Galaxy were 3-0 down to rivals Los Angeles FC just after the break thanks to two efforts from Carlos Vela and a Daniel Steres own goal, though they had pulled one back prior to Ibrahimovic’s 71st-minute introduction.
Chris Pontius got Galaxy another shortly after, before Ibrahimovic took over, equalising and announcing himself to MLS with a sensational 40-yard half-volley, catching goalkeeper Tyler Miller off his line.
Ibrahimovic then secured victory for his new side in the first LA derby in stoppage time, heading in Ashley Cole’s cross to leave no doubt that the Swede means business in the United States.
But it was by no means the first example of Ibrahimovic quickly making his presence felt, as we examine some of his best debuts below…
Champions League – Ajax 2-1 Lyon, September 2002
Ibrahimovic was introduced to European football way back in 2002, but he was only in the team on the day due to an injury to Rafael van der Vaart and Mido’s suspension, which was a consequence of throwing a pair of scissors at the Swede during a row. Ibrahimovic stepped up in their absence, however, scoring a brilliant opener from a tight angle after squeezing between a couple of defenders, before then getting the winner with a simple finish in the Champions League group-stage clash.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) June 17, 2016
Serie A – Brescia 0-3 Juventus, September 2004
Having developed into a real talent at Ajax, Juventus splashed a reported €16million on Ibrahimovic at the start of the 2004-05 season and he quickly picked up where he left off in Netherlands. His debut Serie A goal bore a strong resemblance to his first in the Champions League with Ajax, as he squirmed through two challenges on the left of the penalty area and shot, though this time he had more than a little help from Brescia goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi.
LaLiga – Barcelona 3-0 Sporting Gijon, August 2009
After becoming a force with Juve and then Inter in Serie A, Ibrahimovic’s form convinced Barcelona’s hierarchy to pay a reported €46m plus Samuel Eto’o for his services. While his one-year stay in Catalonia was complicated by a well-documented fractious relationship with coach Pep Guardiola, Ibrahimovic cannot be accused of not making an impact at the club and wasted no time getting in on the scoring, netting in an easy win over Sporting Gijon on his LaLiga debut, heading in at the back post after a cross took a deflection. He went on to win the treble in his only season at Camp Nou.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 9, 2014
Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Lorient, August 2012
From the team’s perspective, Ibrahimovic’s Ligue 1 debut with PSG did not go entirely to plan, but the man himself started as he meant to go on, chesting down Nene’s chipped pass in the area and volleying into the bottom-right corner to pull one back just after the hour. He then secured a share of the spoils right at the end, converting a penalty after Blaise Matuidi had been felled. He went on to become the club’s all-time leading scorer with 156 goals, though Edinson Cavani has since overtaken him.
Premier League – Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester United, August 2016
“I won’t be the King of Manchester, I will be the God of Manchester,” was a strong opening gambit from Ibrahimovic upon his arrival at United, referencing Eric Cantona’s self-proclaimed nickname. He went on to back up his perceived arrogance in the Premier League, scoring 17 times in 28 games before a nasty knee injury ended his first season early. A trip to Bournemouth gave him his first taste of English football and he found the net in style, drilling into the bottom-left corner from long distance.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 14, 2016
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