Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his return to the AC Milan side in typical box-office fashion, with the Swede at the centre of the action in yet another brilliant advert for Sunday night Serie A. His side travelled to Rome looking to keep the pace with Napoli at the top in the race for the Scudetto following the Partenopei’s 1-0 win at Salernitana.
Ibrahimovic was making only his second start of the season as he replaced Olivier Giroud in attack.
The Frenchman scored the crucial winner last time out against Torino but Ibrahimovic’s experience was going to prove key in a game of this magnitude.
The Roma fans were keen to try and spoil Ibrahimovic’s return to the fold as they taunted the veteran with chants of “Sei uno zingaro (you are a gypsy).”
It didn’t take long for Ibrahimovic to respond as he struck the opener with a brilliant, low free-kick.
Rui Patricio appeared to be expecting Ibrahimovic to shoot over the wall but the driven effort wrong-footed the former Wolves goalkeeper.
And Zlatan was keen to taunt the Roma fans that had been giving him stick, urging them to sing louder following the goal.
The referee decided to book the striker for antagonising the crowd, telling him to stop.
Speaking to DAZN before the game, Ibrahimovic made it clear that he was expecting a hostile reaction from the Roma fans, who he encouraged to boo him.
“How do I feel? Physically, I’m fine, I recovered well, but I missed the minutes,” he said.
“Let’s hope they boo me, at least I will feel alive. Mourinho will have loaded his players, to come up with an aggressive game. But we have to stay focused and play our game.”
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Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net for a second time after the break but VAR ruled the goal out for offside.
He then won a penalty for his side after being bundled over but instead of taking it, he let Franck Kessie step up from 12-yards.
The Ivorian made no mistake from the spot to double Milan’s lead in Rome.
It would be the forward’s last action of the game, as he was replaced by Giroud but this was another classic Zlatan masterclass.
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Ibrahimovic played under Roma boss Mourinho at both Inter Milan and Manchester United and the pair struck up a close bond during their time together.
In his book ‘I am Zlatan’, Ibrahimovic explains that he was willing “to die” for Mourinho, detailing his unique relationship with The Special One.
“He formed an attachment to me even before we met. He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for,” he said.
“I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him.
“No matter how happy I was going to Barca, it was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special.”