Once a Malmö colleague of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Markus Rosenberg hailed his former team-mate after Paris Saint-Germain's 5-0 win on the Sweden captain's homecoming.
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On Wednesday night against Paris Saint-Germain, Malmö boasted no less than five starters raised in the club's youth setup. Yet it was another MFF product that took centre stage: the victorious visitors' forward Zlatan Ibrahimović, whose return home had the southern Swedish city abuzz.
"We had such incredibly high expectations for this match in particular, we wanted so much more," said Malmö captain Markus Rosenberg, one of the home-grown players and a team-mate of Ibrahimović's growing up.
Although disappointed with the 5-0 defeat that took Paris through at Malmö's expense, Rosenberg had praise for childhood friend Ibrahimović. "He played a good game, had a lot of fine passes and scored a goal," he said.
While Rosenberg, 33, has shared a pitch and played youth football and senior international tournaments with Ibrahimović, for 19-year-old Franz Brorsson it was a first. The central defender got his debut taste of the UEFA Champions League group stage, due to the suspension of Kári Árnason, and Brorsson was unsentimental when talking about his first encounter with Ibrahimović, having sent the Paris forward crashing to the ground with a late tackle.
"I didn't want Zlatan to feel too comfortable out there," said Brorsson. "It was fun to give him a hit."
Paris coach Laurent Blanc revealed at the post-match press conference that he had handed the captain's armband to the Malmo-born striker, after a suggestion from regular skipper Thiago Silva, citing how special the game was for Ibrahimović. At 5-0 up in the 85th minute, Blanc substituted Ibrahimović "because we wanted to give the crowd the chance to salute him since we had already won the game".
The significance of the night for Ibrahimović – facing the home-town club he left 14 years ago – was not lost on Paris's double scorer Ángel Di María either. ”He had a very special day, it was a match where he returned home after being away for many years," Di María told UEFA.com. "The ovation he was given at the time of the substitution was well-deserved."