Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been reflecting on his match-winning performance during Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Southampton in the League Cup final.
The Swede rifled home a sumptuous free-kick after just 19 minutes to send Jose Mourinho’s men into the lead, only to then watch from a distance at Southampton restored parity with two goals from Marco Gabbiadini.
But with Claude Puel’s side pressing for a late winner, Zlatan popped up once again to head home with minutes remaining, sending supporters into a state of pure elation.
And the 35-year-old, speaking after the game, couldn’t hide his joy after adding another trophy to his illustrious trophy cabinet.
“It was nice because it was 2-0, they came to 2-2 and we looked tired but I had the chance and I scored, its a team effort, not solo, I came to win and I’m winning in England, the more I win the more satisfying it is,” he said after the game.
“I appreciate the trophies more as I’ve aged and the winning mentality as it helps me understand what they mean, it’s number 32 and wherever I go I win. I predicted I’d be playing this well and according to others I wouldn’t be able to but I am.”
I don’t need to tell you, the reader, a United fan just like myself, that the last two hours were gut-wrenchingly excruciating.
Southampton were brilliant, almost too good to bear, surging forward with an air of real menace and unpredictability; United, on the other hand, had very little to offer.
Sometimes cup finals reduce teams to one clear, unchanging dynamic, and such was the case for Mourinho’s men: that usual speed and verve going forward was nowhere to be seen, and the only thing stopping me from closing my laptop, heading outside and chain-smoking until the Saints inevitably grabbed a third was the fact that a chance – just a small sighting of goal – may just fall Zlatan’s way.
Cup finals are about winning and nothing else. And it felt appropriate that the man responsible for deciding this thrilling encounter was indeed the biggest winner on the pitch, and perhaps the most notorious conqueror of European football today.