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Recently labelled the Gulliver of Serie A, Zlatan Ibrahimović is better known for his domestic exploits than for any on his travels. However, his impressive performance in AC Milan's 4-0 victory against Arsenal FC is proof the Sweden striker can also deliver in Europe.
The scorer of just three goals in 21 UEFA Champions League knockout games prior to this season was compared to Jonathan Swift's immortal creation by Juventus coach Antonio Conte for his deadly impact upon Serie A defences. On Wednesday, however, Ibrahimović gave similar treatment to the Arsenal back four, providing two assists for Robinho – after Kevin-Prince Boateng had broken the deadlock for the Rossoneri – and converting the penalty he had earned himself to seal a convincing round of 16 first-leg win.
However, the forward was ready to share the credit with his team-mates. "It was a night of great emotion because we won a difficult match with a great result and the side played brilliantly," Ibrahimović told UEFA.com. "It was the whole team that played well, not just me – without that it couldn't have happened.
"We are happy to take this first-leg result over to London," the 30-year-old continued. "Everybody helped each other out, we played with a great tempo, we played intelligently and everyone showed a great will to win. Above all, we showed the right mentality."
Milan's success was all the more eye-catching given they had endured a difficult four weeks in Serie A, suffering two defeats in six games. "We always had a lot of confidence," Ibrahimović explained. "Despite recent results we always stayed positive.
We may have lost the odd game of late but tonight we won and showed how well we can play against a great side. However it's not over yet. This is only the first leg. We'll have to stay focused for the return in London and then we'll see how we get on."
Milan's totemic front man can look at the 6 March sequel with optimism, having struck twice at Arsenal for FC Barcelona in 2009/10. "It doesn't matter that I've scored against Arsenal before," he added. "Every game is different and you never know what is going to happen. What you've done in the past counts for nothing – what counts is what you do in the future. Tonight's game is not a warning shot to anyone, it's just a good indication to ourselves that we are in form."
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