Zlatan’s four goal haul downs Hart’s England
- 14 November 2012 21:44
- Posted by Mark Booth
City had 11 players in action for their respective nations in this round of international friendlies but one of the world’s best strikers took centre stage in Stockholm.
Joe Hart was unable to keep a clean sheet for England in a 4-2 defeat which marked the opening of Sweden’s new national stadium, the Friends Arena.
Hart’s goal was breached for the first time in the 20th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring at the second time of asking with a clinical stabbed finish into the roof of the net.
Danny Welbeck hit back 15 minutes later with a volley from close range and the man who put Spurs 1-0 up against City was next to pounce for the Three Lions.
A it was on Sunday, Steven Caulker arrived onto a set piece from the left and powered home.
The hosts had to wait an awfully long time for an equaliser but they found it when Ibrahimovic added to his tally in the 77th minute, chesting down a through ball before unleashing an unstoppable volley which flew through Hart.
It was to be the Swede’s night and their talisman completed a memorable hat-trick with a venomous free-kick after 83 minutes.
He wasn’t finished there and one of world football's true showmen saved his very best to last with a majestic overhead kick from 30 yards in stoppage time to make it Zlatan and Sweden 4-2 England.
In truth, it was a poor match in Riyadh and there was a worrying moment late on when Aguero received a nasty kick on his knee but he was able to stay on and will be assessed by the medical staff at Carrington upon his return.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli kept his promise to start Mario Balotelli in their match against France but goals from Gomis and Valbuena meant that it was an unhappy night for the Azzurri in Parma as they lost 2-1.
Ivory Coast went into their friendly against Austria in Linz with a stellar list of names left on the bench. Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Yaya Toure were all kept in reserve but Kolo Toure led the Elephant stomp to a 1-0 half-time lead.
Abdul Razak was introduced after 52 minutes and the change seemed to have the desired effect as the Ivorians doubled their advantage nine minutes later courtesy of second half substitute Drogba.
Yaya did eventually make it a full City trio on the field after 59 minutes and Lassana Traore hit a third goal late on to end the match as a contest.
Meanwhile, any prospect of a meeting between two City players in Bucharest where Belgium faced Romania was ruled out with Costel Pantilimon remaining in Manchester.
Vincent Kompany did captain his side but it was a disappointing night for Belgium as they surrendered a first-half advantage to go down 2-1.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team recorded a convincing 3-1 win over the South Americans, with Kolarov only featuring for the first half before he was withdrawn.
Finally, a terrible pitch in Algeria greeted Edin Dzeko’s Bosnia-Herzegovina for their friendly and the game suffered for it, with the ball unable to travel along the floor due to the soggy surface.
On one occasion in the 28th minute, Dzeko had what would normally be an easy chance for City’s top scorer but due to the water, he swung and missed the ball.
Bosnia did end up winning the match with a goal from Muamer Svraka in second half injury time.