Zlatan Ibrahimovic lights up MLS with 'perfect hat-trick' in LA derby

Ibrahim Mustapha
Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates for LA Galaxy (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates for LA Galaxy (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was once again the MLS star of the show for LA Galaxy after a stunning hat-trick to help his side beat local rivals LAFC 3-2.

The Swede had already lit the blue touch paper ahead of the Los Angeles derby by dismissing any comparisons between himself and LAFC striker Carlos Vela.

Former Arsenal forward Vela’s goals have propelled his side to the top on the Western conference table, with the Mexican also widely tipped to be the league’s player of the season (MVP).

However, when Ibrahimovic was asked in the build up if he thought he was still the better player despite Vela’s achievements so far this season, he was emphatic

“By far, because if he's in his prime. How old is he? 29,” said Ibrahimovic. “And he's playing in MLS and he's in his prime. When I was 29, where was I? (Europe). Big difference.”

He also described himself as ‘Ferrari among Fiats’ regarding his so-called peers in the league.

Ibrahimovic, 37, went some way to backing up his claims when the two went head to head in ‘El Trafico’ at Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park.

Despite Vela giving the visitors the lead from the penalty spot after just four minutes, ‘Ibra’ was undeterred.

Four minutes later, he levelled the scores, taking down a long ball on his chest before flicking over his marker Eduard Atuesta and smashing a right foot half volley from 20 yards into the bottom left corner of Tyler Miller’s goal.

With the scores level at the break, Ibrahimovic grabbed his second ten minutes into the second half, rising to meet Diogo Polenta’s inventive outside foot cross and sending a looping header past Miller to make it 2-1.

The former Barcelona and Manchester United striker sealed his treble with 20 minutes to go, picking up the ball outside the penalty area before arrowing a left-footed drive into the bottom corner.

Right foot, header, left foot - the perfect hat-trick.

Vela scored again for LAFC in stoppage time - in the process becoming the fastest player to reach 20 goals in a season in MLS history - but it wasn’t enough.

Speaking after the game Ibrahimovic again invoked his car analogy.

“The Ferrari had a lot of fuel tonight” he said before aiming another dig at his beaten opponents.

“I told you I would make them famous, and I would make them remember me, now the have another statement for that.”

On Vela, Ibrahimovic was equally assertive.

“I have a lot of respect for Vela,” he said to the press. “He's a good player but you made one mistake: you compared him with me. That was your biggest mistake.”

Despite the win, LA Galaxy remain nine points behind their city rivals the Western Conference table.

However, this night belonged to Ibrahimovic.

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