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February 17, 2017
A deflected free-kick, a routine tap-in and a third from the penalty spot saw the Swede to his 17th career treble and gave United a comfortable lead in the last-32 tie ahead of the second leg next week.
Speaking after the victory, the 35-year-old said he is eager to win trophies at Old Trafford as he has at all his previous clubs and compared himself to Harrison Ford’s adventuring archaeologist.
Per Paul Vinnell of Sky Sports, Ibrahimovic said:
Every trophy for me is incredible, everywhere I came I won so if I can win something here I will be super happy. People that know me know that I play in many clubs and I try to do my best. Wherever I went I won—so I am like Indiana Jones.
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Zlatiana Jonesovic and the Theatre of Dreams? https://t.co/zc1og3UJam
During his career Ibrahimovic has won titles at some of the biggest and most historic clubs in Europe, including Ajax, Juventus (revoked due to Calciopoli scandal), Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite being prolific almost everywhere he has played there were many who doubted whether he would succeed at United, including former Ireland international Tony Cascarino in the Times.
However, besides a brief barren run in October, Ibrahimovic has been excellent for Jose Mourinho’s United side in 2016-17, and his treble on Thursday took his tally for the season to 23 in all competitions:
Per BT Sport’s Harry Redknapp, his leadership has also been crucial for the Red Devils:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
‘The new leader of the football club.’
@Redknapp says Zlatan has taken over from @WayneRooney at @ManUtd. #MUNSTE https://t.co/WBX6TYTk6R
Zlatan’s hat-trick made United a shoo-in to make the last 16 of the Europa League, a tournament they are favourites to win, as they are for the upcoming EFL Cup final against Southampton, per the Press Association (via the Guardian).
Sunday should also see United make the quarter-finals of the FA Cup assuming they can down struggling Championship side Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
United remain sixth in the Premier League, just two points off the UEFA Champions League spots but 12 points back from leaders Chelsea.
Ibrahimovic is likely, then, to have to wait until next season to have a chance at adding an English top-flight title to his expansive trophy cabinet.
But, if he continues his prolific goalscoring form, it should not be long until Ibrahimovic earns a first piece of major silverware at United—they could even triumph on multiple fronts this season—to continue his incredible winning record.