New Manchester United signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his official debut for his new club in true Ibrahimovic style, by scoring the winning goal in the FA Community Shield against Premier League champions Leicester City at Wembley on Sunday. The Swedish striker rose highest to ensure his and new manager Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford reign got off to a winning start and claims it felt “amazing” to win on his competitive debut.
“It feels amazing to win the first official game. I’ve been here a couple of weeks and I get to win my first trophy with United. I mean this is what we play for.
“We play for the trophies and I’m super happy and super excited for the goal – but especially for the win because it’s a trophy for the team. This is what we work hard for and sacrifice.
“When you can win it is even more amazing but all the credit to Leicester as well, because they played a good game and they had a fantastic last season. You can see it’s a strong team.”
The former Paris Saint-Germain man also scored on his unofficial debut against Turkish side Galatasaray in his native Sweden last month as the Reds ran out 5-2 victors in Gothenburg. It is still very early days for the 34-year-old striker but the signs are looking very promising in his short United career thus far.
The Premier League champions had the best chances of the first half hour as Shinji Okazaki went close twice with one of his efforts crashing against David De Gea’s crossbar but it was United who broke the deadlock with 32 minutes on the clock. Jesse Lingard scored it, a goal of equal quality, if not better than his FA Cup winning strike against Crystal Palace in May which came at the same end of the stadium.
The 23-year-old picked the ball up just outside the centre circle in the Foxes half which saw him ghost past four Leicester players before firing past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. It took Claudio Ranieri’s men less than 10 minutes to draw level after the restart. Jamie Vardy continued his impressive goal-scoring exploits from last term as he capitalised on a weak back-pass from Marouane Fellaini to round De Gea and slot into an empty net.
With penalties looming, Ibrahimovic – who had been relatively quiet for the most part – out-muscled Leicester captain Wes Morgan to meet Antonio Valencia’s looping cross with a header that found the back of the net via the inside of the far post. After netting the winning goal, Ibra suggests things can only get better once he has a greater understanding with his new teammates.
“It feels good to be in Manchester United and this is what counts,” he added. “My individual performances will come. We’re in the beginning and building up my physique, my conditioning, and I am yet to know the team-mates.
“When all these things are settled, things grow easily. You can then just play your game and enjoy. Things are coming together. We’re in the beginning and we’re just getting to know each other, especially with me. That is new and we won today and hopefully we can win more.”
The Reds head to the south coast on Sunday to face Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign.