Zlatan Ibrahimovic talked the talk and walked the walk in the fourth Los Angeles Derby, scoring all three goals in the LA Galaxy’s 3-2 win over LAFC.
In three matches played between these two sides, the Galaxy remains unbeaten, winning two and drawing one.
“I think the team played very well,” Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “We fight. We can play better, but we keep fighting, and if we keep playing like today, we’ll be a very dangerous team for sure.”
After this match, however, LAFC stays in first in the Western Conference standings on 46 points. Meanwhile, the Galaxy jump above Seattle to move back into second for the time being.
The race for the golden boot and MLS MVP is heating up. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has 16 goals in 17 matches played, while Carlos Vela, who scored twice on Friday, is up to 21 goals in 20 games this season.
The action got going right from the opening whistle. David Bingham came off his line, while Carlos Vela was going wide, and brought LAFC’s captain down inside the box. Vela stepped up from 12 yards out and slotted home his 20th goal of the season.
Ibrahimovic flips the script
LAFC’s advantage lasted for all of five minutes after Ibrahimovic pulled off a sensational move to level the match.
Julian Araujo flipped the ball back over the top towards the Swedish striker. Then, Ibrahimovic dinked the ball over a helpless LAFC defender before burying his goal past Tyler Miller.
The LAFC goalkeeper produced another good save at the half-hour mark to keep things level for the time being.
LA’s Diego Polenta kept possession alive down the left before finding Uriel Antuna behind the defenders. The Gold Cup winner sent a dangerous cross towards the middle where Favio Alvarez met the ball with his forehead. This headed attempt forced Miller to make a diving stop.
Only ten minutes had elapsed in the second half when Ibrahimovic notched his second goal of the match. Polenta was left alone in space and lifted a ball at the far post. Waiting for the delivery was Ibrahimovic who rose above the LAFC defender to head the goal into the net.
“When the ball comes in the box, I just try to stay focused and attack the ball,” Ibrahimovic told the media afterward.
“And Diego (Polenta) did a fantastic cross because he was looking to do an outside curve, but they were blocking him. So he did an external curve instead and it came in perfect.”
In the 70th minute, Araujo and Alvarez combined with short passes once again before the latter played Ibrahimovic into space. The Galaxy striker hit a left-footed shot from distance for his third goal that Miller was unable to keep out of the goal.
Carlos Vela managed to get a second goal for LAFC deep into stoppage time. He hung off the back of the Galaxy defenders and beat Bingham with a well-timed shot. On replay, however, it looked as if the Mexican international was a hair offside. But after a video assistant referee check, the goal stood.
LA Galaxy will take a break from MLS action to take on Tijuana Tuesday night in the Leagues Cup. Kickoff for the match is set for 8:00 PM.
LAFC takes on Atlanta United next Friday night at the Banc of California Stadium. These two sides are set for a 7:00 PM kickoff.