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.
Call him captain Kane.
The FA confirmed on Tuesday that Harry Kane would captain England at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he’ll break a record for being the youngest England captain at a World Cup. At just 24-years of age, Kane appears wise beyond his years and has over the past World Cup cycle developed into arguably the best striker in the Premier League, if not one of the top center forwards in the world.
The previous youngest England captain was the late, great Bobby Moore, who was 25-years old at the 1966 World Cup – hosted of course by England.
Considering the overall youth movement within the England ranks, this comes as a smart decision from manager Gareth Southgate. Though strikers aren’t usually made captains, he leads the line by example and has displayed great leadership for Tottenham over the last two years. In addition, should he remain consistent in his club and country form, he could be an England captain for another eight years or so.
In the last two World Cups, England has gone with the veteran hand for captain, with Steven Gerrard wearing the armband for both. But England was knocked out in the Round of 16 in 2010 and didn’t make it out of the group stage in 2014, which, combined with the shocking defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016, necessitated a change in management and culture.
Arsenal will have a new home kit next year, but there’s a bit of a twist compared to the old reliable we know and love.
Puma and Arsenal released the club’s 2018-2019 home kit on Tuesday morning, featuring a red and white top with a “pulse” design through the center, which displays different shades of red to symbolize the heartbeat of the club, and lighter red on the white sleeves. White shorts and socks will accompany the home outfit.
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Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang all modeled the new kit, giving a hint that the quartet could be in Arsenal colors next season.
The uniform also uses Puma’s “seamless evoKNIT” technology, making it easier for players to play in while running across the pitch. The club has picked the marketing campaign “#WeAreTheArsenal” to drive sales.
Will the new kits bring Arsenal more success next season? Time will tell.
MONTREAL (AP) Playing a man down after Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic got a red card in the 42nd minute, the Los Angeles Galaxy got past the Montreal Impact 1-0 Monday on a goal by Ola Kamara.
The Galaxy (4-6-1) ended a four-game losing run. Montreal (3-9-0) has lost three in a row, all by shutout, with the last two coming at home.
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Ibrahimovic was sent off after slapping Michael Petrasso, who had stepped on Ibrahimovic’s foot while marking him well away from the ball. After consulting video, referee Ismail Elfath showed Ibrahimovic the red card and Petrasso the yellow.
Both went down after the slap, and Ibrahimovic was limping as a trainer helped him off the field.
With 10 men, the Galaxy stayed back in the second half, looking for counterattacks.
In the 75th minute, substitute Emmanuel Boateng headed a ball forward that Kamara took on the run. He beat Marco Donadel and Jukka Raitala with a cut into the middle and scored his team-leading fifth goal on a low shot from inside the penalty area.
Montreal had some chances, including back-to-back shots in the 55th minute by Alejandro Silva and Raheem Edwards that were blocked by goalkeeper David Bingham.
ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.
Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.
It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.
The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”
Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.