Fresh off a weekend hat trick that marked his return from injury, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has reached another personal landmark, this time at the international level. Scoring three and 21 minutes into today’s visit from Estonia, Sweden’s captain hit the half-century mark, catching then passing Sven Rydell to become the country’s all-time leading corer.
Ibrahimovic’s two-goal day led Erik Hamrén’s team to a 2-0 win in Solna, Sweden. Ranked 29th in the world, the Swedes now move on to next week’s Euro 2016 qualifying, where the team opens Group G play Monday at Austria. Drawn into a group with top-seeded Russia, Sweden is one of two favorites to qualify for an expanded European championship field.
Should he appear on Monday, Ibrahimovic will become the 10th player in Swedish history to reach the 100-cap mark – 57 more than Rydell amassed in his 10-year international career. A bronze medalist at the 1924 Olympics, Rydell amassed a goal-scoring mark that stood for 82 years, with no player coming within six of his total before Ibrahimovic’s arrival.
Opening the day’s scoring, Ibrahimovic’s third minute volley barely made it over the goal line before Estonia goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko’s attempted stop. Capitalizing on a failed clearance of a Sweden corner, Ibrahimovic one-timed his left-footed shot from eight yards out at the far post, beating Pareiko before the FK Volga keeper could make it back across goal.
Ibrahimovic’s second was a page from his legend. Cutting across the six-yard box toward the near post, the Sweden captain met a low driven ball four yards out, playing the pass with a right back-heel that froze Pareiko before rolling into goal.
Though a back injury has already cost Ibrahimovic a game with Paris Saint-Germain this season, his five goals in three games leaves him two clear atop Ligue 1‘s scoring charts. Add in today’s performance and two goals on Aug. 2 in France’s Super Cup, and Ibrahimovic has nine goals in five appearances this season, bringing his total (club and country) to 105 since moving to PSG just over two years ago.