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.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
[ MORE: Aguero could miss Manchester derby after FA charge ]
The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
[ MORE: Rooney retiring from England after 2018 World Cup ]
Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.
U.S. Men’s National Team and LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes will miss the rest of the MLS regular season with a broken bone in his right foot.
It was initially believed on Monday that the U.S. attacker could be out until the end of 2016 after suffering the injury in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Zardes was taken down by Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston during the latter stages of the match, with the Costa Rican apparently catching the inside of the 24-year-old’s foot, ultimately causing the injury.
Because of his extended absence, Zardes was ruled out of consideration for the USMNT squad ahead of their upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.