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Ibrahimovic after derby win: 'They locked up the wrong animal'

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a match-winning brace against bitter rivals Inter and said he was "hungry" to make his mark.

Ibrahimovic after derby win: 'They locked up the wrong animal'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says "the wrong animal was locked in the house" after marking his return from a coronavirus-enforced absence with two goals in Milan's 2-1 derby win over Inter.

Ibrahimovic netted both of his goals in the first 16 minutes – the opener coming from a rebound after a penalty he won was saved – to maintain Milan's perfect start to the campaign.

He had missed four games and not played for almost a month after contracting COVID-19, but the 39-year-old made up for lost time with his match-winning brace at San Siro on Saturday.

"I was so hungry. They locked the wrong animal in the house," he told MTV. 

"It is not easy mentally to always be at homecoming from a very high pace – the body is shaking because it wants to work, it wants to play. 

"I stayed at home and have waited for him to pass to return with the team and work with the team."

Ibrahimovic, who now has five goals in three appearances this season, lasted the full 90 minutes against Milan despite his lack of playing time over the past month.

And it was revealed after the match that the Swedish striker asked to be substituted, only for head coach Stefano Pioli to keep him on until the end.

"He was very tired and even asked to come off, but this time I was the one who ignored him!" Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. 

"Zlatan is extraordinary, he brings so much to the side with his talent, determination and character. He's an exemplary professional, gives everything for his team, wants to win everything from a cup Final to a training ground routine.

"I can't take any credit for dealing with Ibrahimovic, as it's very easy."

Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Inter just before the half-hour mark and had a penalty shout turned down by VAR in the second half.

Achraf Hakimi also wasted a good headed opportunity for Inter as Antonio Conte's side pushed for a leveller but Milan held on for to seal the bragging rights.

Not since 1995 have they won four straight league games at the start of a season, though Pioli can still see room for improvement as he put talk of a Scudetto challenge in perspective.

"The team spirit is incredible, we work hard for our cause," he said. "We won every game this season, but none of them were easy. That means we have to improve tactically and technically, because we cannot always rely on character.

"I like to think positive and consider myself an optimist, but I also acknowledge there are at least three or four clubs who invested more than we did and are at a more advanced stage. 

"We are ambitious, but largely invested for the future. There are seven clubs at a high level in Serie A right now and only four of them will be happy with a Champions League spot at the end of the season.

"If you want to challenge for the Scudetto, you need to raise the quality level of the squad. Even then, it takes a lot of time, there are sides that invested far more and haven't done as well. The club has been wise to lay the foundations and build upon them going forward."


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