Two-goal day sees Zlatan Ibrahimovic become Sweden’s all-time leading scorer

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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.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

UEL: Griezmann nabs crucial away goal vs. Arsenal, Marseille cruises

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A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.

The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.

The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.

Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.

The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.


Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Europa League, LIVE: Arsenal, Marseille host first legs

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Diego Costa brings a solid career record against Arsenal back to London in a bid to ruin Arsene Wenger‘s farewell season at the Emirates Stadium.

[ FOLLOW: Arsenal vs. Atleti ]

The now-Atletico Madrid forward returns to England on Thursday as his La Liga outfit aims to stop Arsenal from reaching next month’s Europa League Final in Lyon.

[ FOLLOW: Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg ]

That’s a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff, the same as Marseille’s date with Red Bull Salzburg in France.

ARSENAL-ATLETICO MADRID LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Atleti: Oblak, Lucas, Godin, Gimenez, Vrsaljko, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Correa, Griezmann, Gameiro. Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa.