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Zlatan opens Manchester United account in winning style at Wembley

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City

By Mark Ogden

Published 08/08/2016

Euphoric: Zlatan Ibrahimovic marks scoring the winner for his new club
Euphoric: Zlatan Ibrahimovic marks scoring the winner for his new club

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has admitted he is in a hurry to achieve success at Manchester United, arriving at Old Trafford in the twilight of his trophy-laden career, so it is perhaps no surprise that his first winning goal in a red shirt secured his first winners' medal for the club.

The 34-year-old, who arrived at United on a free transfer after scoring 50 goals in 47 games for Paris Saint Germain last season, will do well to contribute even half that tally in English football.

But his first one secured the Community Shield for United and Jose Mourinho as Premier League champions Leicester City were beaten in the traditional season curtain-raiser at Wembley.

Jesse Lingard's spectacular solo goal had given United a first half lead before Jamie Vardy equalised early in the second half for Claudio Ranieri's team.

But Ibrahimovic is a player accustomed to living in the limelight and he ensured he claimed it once again by heading the winner seven minutes from full time.

Being ready for the Premier League opening weekend was the priority for Ranieri and Mourinho, but Wembley is never a bad arena in which to lay down a marker for the new campaign and both teams did even enough to suggest that they will challenge for honours this term.

The task ahead of both teams is wholly different, however. Leicester must prove that last season's title success was no fluke, with the added difficulty of now being a scalp to be claimed, while United simply must do better than last season's fifth placed finish.

And under Mourinho, United already look a different outfit than that which toiled for so long under Louis van Gaal last season.

The former Chelsea manager has added height and presence to the team, greater athleticism - particularly in the shape of defender Eric Bailly.

The sideways passing of last season is no more, with Lingard's stunning opening goal an example of the not-too-subtle change of approach.

Leicester had created the better earlier chances prior to Lingard's goal, however.

Shinji Okazaki sent a left foot shot narrowly wide after Vardy had beaten Bailly before the Japanese forward sent a header against the crossbar after beating Michael Carrick and Ibrahimovic to Marc Albrighton's corner.

Bailly, a £30m summer signing from Villarreal, impressed on his competitive debut - reading the game well, despite at times diving into challenges.

And the Ivorian showcased his pace and tenacity on 26 minutes with a perfectly-executed challenge on Vardy, just as the England forward was preparing to strike Danny Drinkwater's through-ball.

United weathered the storm, though, and claimed the lead on 32 minutes when Lingard scored again at Wembley following his FA Cup final match-winner last May.

Having received the ball on the edge of the centre-circle inside the Leicester half, Lingard raced through the gears, beating four defenders, before calmly side-footing past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

With his champions trailing, Ranieri introduced £16m club record signing Ahmed Musa at the half time interval and it proved to be a crucial change.

The summer acquisition from CSKA Moscow is blessed with searing pace and it led to the equaliser just seven minutes into the second-half.

With the Nigerian breaking down the left, he played the ball inside for Vardy, only for Marouane Fellaini to intercept the pass.

Fellaini's next touch, a woefully under-hit back-pass to David de Gea, gifted Vardy his opportunity, though and the Leicester striker capitalised with a typical finish beyond the United goalkeeper.

United then lost Lingard to injury, with the Warrington-born midfielder accepting defeat in his attempt to run off a foot problem sustained in a challenge by Andy King.

But with the game seemingly heading towards a penalty shootout, Ibrahimovic delivered when he rose above Leicester captain Wes Morgan to head Antonio Valencia's 83rd minute cross in off the post with Schmeichel proving helpless to keep it out.

LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel, Simpson (Hernández 63) Huth (Ulloa 89),Morgan, Fuchs (Schlupp 80),Mahrez, Drinkwater, King (Mendy 63), Albrighton (Gray45), Okazaki (Musaat 45), Vardy. Sub not used: Zieler.

MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea, A Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw (Rojo 69),Carrick (Herrera 61), FellainI, Lingard (Mata 63,Mkhitaryan 90+3), Rooney (Schneiderlin 88), Martial (Rashford 70), Ibrahimovic. Sub not used: Romero.

Referee: Craig Pawson.

Match Rating: 7/10

Man of match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Belfast Telegraph

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