Manchester United forward Anthony Elanga donned Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ‘number 11’ shirt during Sweden’s 5-0 Euro 2024 qualifying victory over Azerbaijan and marked his cameo outing with a well-taken goal.

It was a finish Sweden’s favourite footballing son would have been proud to call his own.

Elanga has often come in for criticism due to a perceived lack of composure in the final third. But there was an assured poise about the way he carefully placed a glacier cherry on top of a very tasty Sweden performance on Monday night, racing in behind before rounding the Azerbaijan goalkeeper and slotting home.

That was Elanga’s first goal in 10 months for club or country.

Perhaps Ibrahimovic’s ‘number 11’ shirt was something a good omen then; the 20-year-old inheriting his veteran team-mate’s jersey after the AC Milan veteran was ruled out due to injury.

Photo by FREDRIK SANDBERG/AFP via Getty Images

Anthony Elanga ends goal drought in Sweden rout

“It’s a number I had (in the most recent squad),” Elanga tells Fotbol Skanalen. (Zlatan) didn’t have it today. I had it and scored, so I can’t complain.”

When quizzed on whether he asked permission from a man 21 years his senior, Elanga said; ‘No, no, no. I just took it!’

Ibrahimovic’s shock return to the international stage aside, this is a Sweden side full of bright young players; the likes of Elanga, Dejan Kulusevski, Viktor Gyokeres, Mattias Svanberg and Alexander Isak part of a new generation honing their talents ahead of next year’s European Championships.  

Elanga’s Man United team-mate Victor Lindelof featured for the full 90 minutes against Azerbaijan, though Erik ten Hag will not have been too pleased to hear that a valuable squad member played through the pain.

“I broke my toe in September. And I felt it tightening out there,” Lindelof explains, via Manchester Evening News. “It was with the national team in September. I got a stamp, so I broke it.

“It hurt for a while, I had to take some painkillers.” 

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