ATHENS // The Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic laid to rest any lingering doubts over his form and fitness with an outstanding display in Inter Milan's 2-0 win at Panathinaikos in their Champions League Group B opener last night. Although the 26-year-old did not find the target, he did force one superb save from home goalkeeper Mario Galinovic, and his all-round performance was outstanding as he laid on the goals for Mancini and Adriano.
"He didn't score a goal but for me he did a magnificent job. He played an absolutely fantastic pass (for Adriano)," said a delighted Inter boss Jose Mourinho. Ibrahimovic has been struggling with a knee injury and Mourinho raised concerns about the tall striker representing his country in the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Hungary earlier this month. However, his performance in Athens suggests that he is back to his best, combining a physical presence and a confident touch that can produce the kind of killer pass that set up Adriano.
Panathinaikos coach Henk Ten Cate had no doubts about why his team lost the match. "I thought we played fairly well. The decisive aspects were experience and quality ? especially the individual qualities," he said. "I think we played against the best striker of the world right now. He was always there. He is fantastic at holding the ball up and giving his midfielders and fellow players time, that's very important.
"And the way he provided two goals. Okay we made a mistake on the first one but mistakes like this against players like that are deadly." *Reuters