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Gerrard salutes Zlatan strike as best he’s seen

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against England. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against England. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Thursday, November 15, 2012
7:46 AM

England captain Steven Gerrard hailed Swedish counterpart Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s wonder fourth goal as “the best I have seen” as the striker’s display meant Gerrard’s 100th cap ended in defeat.

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Ibrahimovic inspired Sweden to a 4-2 triumph in the inaugural match at the Friends Arena last night after England had led 2-1 at half-time through goals from Danny Welbeck and debutant Steven Caulker.

It was the first setback England have suffered under Roy Hodgson in open play with their only previous defeat the Euro 2012 penalty shoot-out against Italy.

But Gerrard believes the plaudits should be heaped on Ibrahimovic as opposed to any failings on England’s part with his fourth goal an outrageous 25 yard overhead kick.

The Liverpool player said: “I have mixed emotions. Obviously I am very proud for myself, getting to 100 caps and really pleased with the lads for large parts of the game.

“I thought we controlled the game and did not look like losing it - but sometimes you have to hold your hands up to an individual special performance.

“This was a world-class performance from a world-class player in Ibrahimovic. It (the fourth goal) is the best goal I have seen live.

“I think the best goal I have seen before that is Wayne Rooney’s (against Manchester City).

“Everyone knows how special that was but this one tonight - an overhead kick from 25 yards when the ball is six feet in the air - only certain players can do that.

“He is a special player.”

Gerrard was happy to pay compliments in person to Ibrahimovic.

He said: “I congratulated him after that. He said some nice things about me before the game which was really nice.

“If I could return the compliment I would say that was one of the best individual performances I have seen.

“He is not everyone’s cup of tea but he is certainly mine.”

Gerrard received warm applause from the home crowd in recognition of his century of caps but is now focusing on helping England qualify for the next World Cup.

He said: “That was really touching. All the support I have had from you lads (in the media) my family, friends and people in the game has touched me.

“All eyes were on me and there was extra pressure and excitement.

“Now I am glad it is out of the way and I focus on getting us to the next World Cup. That is the big challenge.”

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