Zlatan Ibrahimovic treated the watching world to another commanding performance during Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Saint Etienne in the Europa League last 32.
The Swede powered home a deflected free-kick, tapped in from close range and calmly scored from the spot to seal his first hat-trick at Man United.
A quick look at his numbers from the game sheds light on the nature of his performance against Christophe Galtier’s side.
Ibrahimovic's game by numbers vs. St. Etienne:
3 key passes
19 final 3rd passes
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 16, 2017
It is the hallmark of a truly great player to contribute very little for the majority of a game and yet manage to still secure the headlines. For 70 minutes, Zlatan cut a slightly lethargic, distant figure, seemingly unable to produce his usual crispness on the ball.
And then, as ASSE begun to tire, the 35-year-old begun his demolition job. That gigantic, marauding figure suddenly came alive, producing smart clicks and inch perfect passes, tapping home to put United in the driving seat after 75 minutes and then almost deciding the tie completely with a wonderfully taken penalty.
This is why Mourinho bought the Swede: not to tick along nicely with the rest of the team, but rather to produce those huge, game-dedicing episodes of mayhem that leaves the opposition in tatters.