Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved his hunger for silverware has not diminished with age as the Swede’s double earned a 3-2 win over Southampton in an absorbing League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
After a stirring Saints fightback revived memories of their shock 1976 FA Cup final victory over United and with extra time looming, the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic pounced to head Ander Herrera’s cross past goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
His 26th goal of the season in all competitions followed a sublime first-half free kick that gave United the lead and enabled manager Jose Mourinho to claim his first silverware since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer.
Mourinho’s fourth League Cup triumph, three of which came during his two spells with Chelsea, put him alongside former United manager Alex Ferguson and Nottingham Forest great Brian Clough as the most successful managers in the competition.
United had taken a rather fortunate 2-0 lead with Ibrahimovic’s 19th-minute strike and Jesse Lingard’s clinical finish but Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini’s brace either side of halftime breathed life into the showpiece match.
Both sides could have snatched victory but in the end it was the irrepressible Ibrahimovic who stole the limelight — even if United’s unused captain Wayne Rooney hoisted the trophy aloft.
“This is a team effort. This is what I came for — to win and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get,” said Ibrahimovic, who has won silverware at Ajax Amsterdam, Inter Milan, Juventus, Barcelona and Paris St Germain.
“You appreciate it more the older you get. Wherever I have gone I have won. I think this is trophy number 32 for me.”
After becoming the first manager to win a major trophy in his debut season at United, Mourinho praised Ibrahimovic.
“He won the game for us. He was outstanding,” said the Portuguese. “He made the difference and he gave us the cup.”