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Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns, LA Galaxy defeat Portland Timbers 2-1

The LA Galaxy defeated the Portland Timbers 2-1 Sunday evening at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Two penalty kick goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured the win on the one-year anniversary of the Swedish superstar’s MLS debut. 

Ibrahimovic and fellow designated player Romain Alessandrini returned to the starting line up for the Galaxy after missing time due to injury. Both were expected to play in the match, but it was unclear whether head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto would place them in starting XI or if they would come off the bench. Ibrahimovic played the entire match rather than easing back into full activity. 

“We said, as long as I can go, I go,” Ibrahimovic said. “We had the communication from the sideline and they asked me all the time, how is it, how is it. Every time I said, all good, all good and I kept going.”

The team has yet to secure a shutout so far this season, but Schelotto stuck with all four defenders — Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta and Jorgen Skjelvik — who made their fourth consecutive starts.

The match was gritty and fairly evenly matched. Both sides showed potential intermittently. The Timbers had several long runs of possession, one of which led to their goal in the 44th minute of play when Jeremy Ebobisse put the ball past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham. There were several long strings of passes for the Timbers, but the goal at the end of the first half was the only time they capitalized on their possession.

The Galaxy’s goals did not come off the run of play, but rather both were penalty kicks drawn and finished by Ibrahimovic. Los Angeles appeared to need time adjusting to Ibrahimovic returning to the line up, rather than the speedy play utilized in the match against Minnesota when 18-year-old midfielder Uriel Antuna filled in the center forward role.

“I think during the game, sometimes, we managed the ball, I think we managed the game, but we couldn’t be deeper like I’d like,” Schelotto said. “But, we had the possibility, they had the goal and some shot from outside the box, and nothing more. I think they took care of us.”

With this win, the Galaxy move to 5th place in the Western Conference standings with a 3-1-0 record. Their next match is Friday night in Vancouver against the Whitecaps at 8 p.m. ET at BC Place.

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