Zlatan Ibrahimovic all smiles after brace in victory over Portland Timbers

LOS ANGELES – Zlatan Ibrahimović was back on the field for Saturday’s win over the Portland Timbers, and the Swedish soccer star and his team couldn’t be happier.

Ibrahimović scored twice from the penalty spot to lift the Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over the reigning Western Conference champion Portland Timbers on Sunday. The victory sealed the Galaxy’s third straight win at Dignity Health Sports Park in 2019.

“We created a lot of chances, but don’t forget we were playing against a good team. They were in the final last year and they were playing with five behind, so it was not easy to play against their team and a good team that has five behind," Ibrahimovic, who scored a brace on the one-year anniversary of his legendary debut, said. "I was surrounded by three guys all the time and every time I got the ball, they tried to close me a little bit. But, we created a lot of chances.

"I hit the post in the first half. We had some shots from outside the box, and I think possession, we had more possession than them. We had crazy support from the stands, that gave us motivation and power. We kept going because we said in the halftime the chance would come and we will score again.”

Going 90 minutes in his first action since suffering a left Achilles injury before the season opener, Ibrahimović was a danger throughout the contest, testing Portland’s five-man backline which attempted to limit his opportunities.

In the end, it was Portland’s eagerness to spot the Swede that proved to be their downfall as fouls on Ibrahimović by Claude Dielna in the first half, and Jeff Attinella in the second led to penalties. From the spot, Ibrahimović made no mistake, even delivering a stylish Panenka finish to cap the victory.

“They were clear penalties. The first penalty was clear, I mean he came from the back, and he hit me, and I went down. The second one, I’m 37 but I’m still fast, and it was a clear penalty,” Ibrahimovic said. “It was really close [to a hat trick]. I should have scored. I promised my son three goals, and because of a bad pass, I didn’t give three goals to my son.”

The focus now turns to this Friday’s clash with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place in British Columbia. After only making one appearance on turf a year ago, Ibrahimović is optimistic that he can repeat some of Sunday’s match next week when the Galaxy head to the Great White North.

“I have no problem with turf fields and last season was special because of my knee injury, which people forgot because I was playing every game almost and I was feeling good. Coming into a new season, I feel fresh, I feel good, but I have this issue with my Achilles, but it was feeling good today and let’s see during the week what happens. If I feel like I do today, I’m present, so all the fans can come and enjoy.”

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