Zlatan saves United with late header
FA COMMUNITY SHIELD
LEICESTER CITY 1
(Jamie Vardy 52)
MAN UNITED 2
(Jesse Lingard 32, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 83)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic treats the spotlight like a beloved kid. He owns it, craves it and refuses to share it.
For 83 minutes, the FA Community Shield belonged to Jesse Lingard's wonder goal, until the swaggering Swede insisted on stealing the show.
Manchester United's indomitable striker rose above Wes Morgan in the box to meet Antonio Valencia's cross and send his header into the bottom corner.
He had stolen a 2-1 victory at Wembley this morning (Singapore time).
More importantly, he had stolen the limelight, satisfying his craving for fame and adulation.
Until his goal, Ibrahimovic had contributed little, a virtual spectator in a team still dealing with the hangover of last season's pedestrian football.
Jose Mourinho's revolution obviously remains a work in progress, but at least he has the finished article up front.
Even at 34, the Swede is going to drag victories from the jaws of tedious draws this season.
Until Ibrahimovic's winner, only Lingard had really seized the initiative.
The build-up to the Community Shield was dominated by news of Paul Pogba's reported medical at Old Trafford, Luke Shaw's return and new signings Eric Bailly and Ibrahimovic, but Lingard jogged football's fickle memory.
The 23-year-old really likes Wembley.
In May, he scored the winner in the FA Cup Final. He scored a stunning opener in the Community Shield.
Either side of each goal, he was overlooked by the myopic Roy Hodgson, somehow ignoring the young Englishman's blistering pace and invention in favour of players who showed neither at Euro 2016.
Lingard was the name on nobody's lips.
Not quite a nowhere man, he was neither here nor there, not expected to dominate, not expected to leave.
On 32 minutes, Lingard sent a message to Mourinho, underlining his intention not to be a bit-part player this season.
Picking up the ball just inside Leicester City's half, Lingard dashed away on a conveyor belt of creativity.
Andy King slid towards a disappearing shadow. Robert Huth was nutmegged.
Danny Simpson was held at bay and Kasper Schmeichel looked on in horror as Lingard's low strike bounced off his outstretched leg and found the bottom corner.
Lingard's wonderful slalom and shot was as brilliant as much of the game was boring, a shiny needle in a haystack of humdrum football.
The contest mostly mirrored events of last season. United dominated possession, but lacked a cutting edge, unable to effectively link the lines between a static midfield and a distant Ibrahimovic.
Leicester looked out of sorts and yet nearly scored twice on the counter-attack through Shinji Okazaki.
On both occasions, United's defensive frailties were evident. Bailly's pace twice got him out of trouble of his own making.
Leicester's need for speed was rectified at half-time with the introduction of new boy Ahmed Musa.
The 23-year-old Nigerian needed seven minutes to suggest the Foxes aren't prepared to conform to cliche and fall from grace.
Like a greyhound out of a trap, Musa exploded out of midfield, confusing United's back-pedalling defenders. A jittery Marouane Fellaini intercepted, but his back-pass was under-hit.
Jamie Vardy pounced and rounded the exposed David de Gea to earn the champions a much-merited equaliser.
Fellaini's unexpected selection in central midfield alongside Michael Carrick hinted at a possible future under Mourinho.
The back-pass, along with a rather awkward performance, did him no favours.
But the Belgian was at least always involved. Rooney, like Riyad Mahrez for Leicester, struggled to get into the contest.
Both sides will expect more from their talismanic forwards in games that matter.
In truth, there was little evidence of Mourinho's revolution. United still mostly huffed and puffed, but at least they have Ibrahimovic, a born match-winner.
The ego has most certainly landed.