Thu. Apr 15th, 2021

The Swedish forward had been absent from the starting lineup since picking up an injury against Napoli back in November, but he returned against Cagliari on Monday looking very much back to his best.

Ibrahimovic’s two goals — the first a penalty he won himself and the second a trademark clinical finish after latching onto a through ball — took the 39-year-old’s tally for the season to 12 and, more importantly, ensured Milan restored its three-point lead at the top of Serie A.

“He is a champion in everything he does,” AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli told reporters after the game. “With his comeback, we have other tactical possibilities and we are very happy to have him.

“He still manages to surprise me, even though I know him well by now. We must expect the best from him, but today he also did something beyond that.”

Although AC Milan is unquestionably bolstered by Ibrahimovic’s return, Pioli will be delighted with how his side performed in the absence of its talisman. Despite losing its unbeaten Serie A record, Milan won five of its eight league matches while Ibrahimovic was out injured.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot.

City rival Inter had temporarily gone level on points with Milan following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo and the Old Lady now 10 points behind the league leader, albeit with a game in hand.

Milan is looking for its first Serie A title since the 2010-11 season and unsurprisingly is reportedly already keen to extend Ibrahimovic’s contract beyond his 40th birthday later this year.

The team will also be bolstered by the imminent arrival of Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, who is reportedly set to sign from Qatari club Al-Duhail.

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