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Nov 14, 2012

Ibrahimovic lights up England with 4 goals

Zlatan Ibrahimovic capped a four-goal performance with a stunning overhead kick from 30 yards as Sweden beat England 4-2 in a friendly Wednesday to open its new national stadium.

After a dull start, the Sweden captain opened the scoring on a counterattack in the 20th minute, but Danny Welbeck and Steven Caulker replied for England before the break.

England appeared in full control in the second half when Ibrahimovic levelled with a powerful volley and put the home team ahead again with a low free kick inside the far post.

But he saved the best for last, chasing down a clearance header by Joe Hart to score with an audacious bicycle kick from well outside the penalty area with his back toward the goal.

"When I saw the goalkeeper was out, I tried to put it against the goal, and luckily it went in," Ibrahimovic said. "It's both luck and skill."

The goal stunned just about everyone inside the 50,000-seat Friends Arena, including Sweden coach Erik Hamren.

"The last one, I don't know if you're going to see another one like that in your life," Hamren said. "It's just incredible, really."

England captain Steven Gerrard called it "one of the best goals I've ever seen live."

A raft of injuries meant England had to do without Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard, and Tottenham trio Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon, and Jermain Defoe.

Coach Roy Hodgson, who fielded three debutantes in the starting lineup, said he was pleased with his team's performance before Ibrahimovic spoiled the evening for England.

"The fourth goal was the crowning glory," he said. "It's a wonderful goal to see on a football field, though I would rather have seen it against someone else."

England scored twice within three minutes toward the end of the first half to take command of the match.

Ashley Young beat his defender on the left flank and curled a low cross that Welbeck slotted in from close range.

Visiting England fans were still celebrating the equalizer in the closed-roof arena when Caulker made it 2-1, slipping through a passive Swedish defence to get a foot on a free kick from Gerrard.

Gerrard was playing his 100th match for England, joining Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and David Beckham as the sixth player to reach that milestone.

Hart had a shaky match, misjudging a couple of key situations, including the foray outside the box that led to Ibrahimovic's final goal.

The Sweden striker, who has often been criticized in the English press, was asked if he was especially pleased having scored four goals against England.

"I enjoyed it, let's put it that way," he said.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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