BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – He may have scored the decisive game-winning goal, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic admitted he should have had a hat trick as the LA Galaxy returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire Saturday.
In bitterly cold, blustery conditions in front of a record crowd of 21,915 at Toyota Park, the Swede produced the all-important finish in first-half injury time to secure all three points and lift the Galaxy to second spot in the Western Conference.
Ibrahimovic rose above former Manchester United teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger to head home from close range to take his tally to three goals in three games since his move to the Galaxy, but the 36-year-old insisted he could have had another two but for the timely interventions of Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez in either half.
“I feel I should have scored another two goals because I missed great chances which I normally should not miss, but I missed,” Ibrahimovic said. “But we won the game, I think the game was difficult, it was not an easy game especially with the weather. I mean, we come with the sun, they come with the wind, but the sun was the stronger today, so we’re happy."
Ibrahimovic credited the efforts of both teams, but was pleased to have picked up the victory in tough conditions.
“I don’t see many teams take points here, they are a good team with Bastian, I think he did a good job and I felt good," he said. "First game from the start, I haven’t played in a long time from the beginning and yeah, three points is what counts and we fly home with the three points.”
After coming off the bench in his previous two outings, LA head coach Sigi Schmid’s plan was always to start Ibrahimovic in Chicago, and the striker went 80 minutes as his budding partnership with Ola Kamara showed signs of promise despite the testing conditions. A rampant opening 10 minutes saw the visitors have two goals ruled out, correctly, for narrow offside calls, while LA’s dominant first-half performance, with a strong wind at their backs, should have reaped greater rewards than the Swede’s solitary goal.
“Yes, I think it can be fruitful long term and I think it was good today,” Schmid said of the partnership. “Ola sacrificed a little bit by coming back and helping us defend at times in midfield, but he was also able to get forward into spaces so there were situations where Ola was in a couple of times and also situations where Ola, if he hits that one cross on the ground he sets up the goal to Zlatan. I think their partnership will get better. They have different strengths so that makes the partnership good, I think.”