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Nov 14, 2012

Gerrard hails 'world class' Ibrahimovic

Steven Gerrard hailed Zlatan Ibrahimovic's "world class" performance after the striker's four goals consigned the England captain to a 4-2 defeat in his 100th game for his country.

Ibrahimovic scored four goals on a night when Sweden opened their new Friends Arena stadium in Stockholm, the last an audacious overhead kick to lob Joe Hart from 30 yards out.

It was the crowning moment in a tour de force display from Sweden's talisman, as England tasted defeat after 90 minutes for the first time in Hodgson's reign.

"I still stick by Zinedine Zidane, he is the best player in the world as the best player of his generation, but his (Ibrahimovic's) performance was world class and he just scored one of the best goals I seen live,'' Gerrard told ITV1.

"It was his night. If someone scores four goals and the way he scored them ... it's one of the best I've seen. There were a lot of positives from our point of view, a lot of young players playing their first games and we can take a lot from this game.

Gerrard added in a press conference: "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.

"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.''

England seemed to have the game under control when they were 2-1 ahead thanks to goals from Danny Welbeck and debutant Steven Caulker, but a host of changes allowed the hosts to get back into the game.

"When you make more than three substitutions it does spoil the game,'' Gerrard said. "The manager is under pressure from other managers and he is respecting those mangers because those players are playing in Europe and it does upset the rhythm. We were comfortable until we made changes.''

Asked about making his 100th appearance, Gerrard added: "This is a special shirt for me. I'll give this to my dad and it will be a nice present for him.''

Hodgson acknowledged Ibrahimovic's performance but felt more could have been done to prevent him completing such a haul.

"The fourth goal was extraordinary, but it was the second and third goals which cost us,'' he said. "For 70 minutes we were playing very well and we deserved to be in the lead, but we made changes and they took the initiative. During the 94 minutes today we did some good things."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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