Saturday 3 December 2016

We lacked quality, admits Ibrahimovic

Philip O'Connor

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Hamren: Frustrated by performance. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Hamren: Frustrated by performance. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In the city where they are accustomed to savouring his magic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic once again failed to live up to his own exalted billing for Sweden as he went missing in their fortuitous 1-1 draw with Ireland.

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It might have been Ibra's cross that Ciaran Clark headed into his own net to salvage a point for Sweden in their Euro 2016 group E clash but, otherwise, the 34-year-old Paris Saint-German hero was an anonymous figure as his side failed to manage a single shot on target.

"We lack quality," captain Ibrahimovic said following the final whistle, hinting that his team-mates really had to share the blame.

"When you think of the balls I got ... I try, but I can do much better."

There were echoes of his anaemic performances for PSG - he leaves the French champions on a transfer this summer - when they crashed out of this year's Champions League against Manchester City.

Linked with a big-money move and a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, the ease with which he was subdued by Ireland's defence poses serious questions as to whether he could thrive in the English Premier League.

Ibrahimovic's only decent chance came in the second half but he failed to get a decent connection with Martin Olsson's cross, scuffing the ball wide with his left foot while tightly marked.

Read more: Unhappy ending to night of Irish promise

On one of the few occasions he did get free, Zlatan combined well with Emil Forsberg and John Guidetti to break down the left of Ireland's penalty area before hammering the ball across the goal only for Clark to head into his own net. "We now have two matches left and we need to take the necessary points," Ibrahimovic said. Coach Eric Hamren was similarly irritated by the first 50 minutes, however, he stopped short of pointing the finger at his star striker.

"The feeling right now is disappointment rather than relief for having been able to come back for a draw," he said. "We're definitely not happy with our first 50 minutes. Our attack was simply not good enough and really bad in the first half."

The Sweden coach was, however, careful not to blame Ibrahimovic.

"Forwards need support and in the first 50 minutes our forwards didn't have much to work with," Hamren added. "Ireland did well protecting their area and keeping him (Ibrahimovic) away from that goal."

Irish Independent

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