Sunday was not only a huge day for the red and black half of Milano, but also for talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swede was sitting on 499 club goals heading into their clash with relegation-threatened Crotone, and an expectant fanbase was hoping to see three points won and a historical milestone reached at the famous San Siro.
Not one to disappoint, Ibrahimovic delivered – as always.
The 39-year-old offered up a classic display of predatory attacking instinct, devastating movement and talent that can only be polished with endless experience and youthful hunger in Milan’s 4-0 win over Crotone.
In doing so, he notched goals numbers 500 and 501 of his club career – an outstanding achievement for any footballer, at any level.
Ibrahimovic played the role of mini-villain early on, loitering in an offside position in the build up to Davide Calabria’s poked strike, which was ruled out due to the Swede’s complacency. Not to worry though. If there’s one man who takes minor discrepancies as personally as Michael Jordan in The Last Dance, it’s Ibra.
The striker needed only half an hour to reach his person milestone however, and when he did, he did so in style. Collecting the ball on the edge of the box, Ibra assessed his options for a split second, before pushing a pass square to Rafael Leao.
No sooner had the ball left his foot, the Swede was off. He sprinted in behind the Crotone defence, ghosting beyond a set of statues and timing his move perfectly. Leao spotted this masterclass in attacking instinct and split the backline with a wonderful through ball.
Ibrahimovic took one look at the goalkeeper and placed his shot calmly into the far corner. No messing about. Lovely stuff.
Not satisfied with just the 500 goals, the Milan star went in search of number 501. He had to wait until the second half, but it was another great goal when it finally arrived. This time, the plaudits must go to his teammates.
Theo Hernandez charged past a set of mannequins to reach the byline on the left wing, and rolled the ball across the face of goal – where any striker worth his salt should be waiting.
You guessed it, Ibra was there. Unmarked with the freedom of the entire six-yard box, the striker had the simple job of tapping the ball over the line.
Two more goals followed and other individuals shone brightly, with Hakan Calhanoglu getting two assists on his return from quarantine, but the day belonged to Ibrahimovic. His game came to a premature end, when he was substituted with 13 minutes to play, but his work for the afternoon was already done.
Milan leapt back to the top of the Serie A table with three vital points, overtaking Inter and reminding them who is boss in this exciting and breathless campaign.
It’s going to be a hard battle for whichever team eventually wins the scudetto (if Juventus don’t sneak up and pinch it yet again), but with Zlatan in I Rossoneri’s ranks, you can’t help but feel this is the final twist in his sensational career.
Here’s to 500 more!