Roughly 70 minutes had elapsed in the Milan derby and his team was leading 2–1 when Milan coach Stefano Pioli stroked the edge of the technical area and asked his center-back how much he felt Can stay out late. Pitch.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who completed both Milan goals during a three-minute span in the first half, pointed his gaze towards the sideline, clenching his fists and saying, “Five minutes.”

Pioli sent reserve striker Lorenzo Colombo to warm up. The 18-year-old was not born when Ibrahimovic scored his first international goal for Sweden back in 2001. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound Rossoneri Fingers are being crossed.

Twenty-six minutes later, the final whistle went. Needless to say, Colombo never arrived. Ibrahimovic had taken the full 98 minutes, counting the time of injury from his body of 39 years; A body that we forget overtook COVID-19 just a week ago.

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On this day, it made all the difference, sealing Milan’s win and sending them to the top of the Serie A table with four out of four wins.

“He was completely exhausted,” Pioli said later. “He asked me to get off, but I ignored him…”

Time is undefeated. We have said this on several occasions. You cannot pursue it. But if you’re smart – and at this stage of your career, Ibrahimovic is nothing if not whip-smart – sometimes you can confuse Father Time and spell more moments that way.

It is not just about his two goals. The first won him a penalty, advancing on Alexandar Kolarov and dishonestly punishing him with his powerful, flamboyant dribble. After saving Samir Handanovic’s first attempt, Ibrahimovic collected a rebound and hit home. The other saw him peeling away from his marker at a distant post, creating space through time and experience, then converting Rafael Liao’s cross.

You want to discount those people because, hey, this is collover? A good player, sure, but one who is around 35 and probably not a central defender, even a back three? Must go, for this. But if you watch this game, you will also know that Ibrahimovic targeted Kolarov, instead of taking him physically, he was chosen as Stephen de Vrij, which is a very close match in terms of muscle and mass. .

This is the difference between an old alpha wolf and a young alpha wolf. The latter would prefer to pick the healthiest, strongest male to show the pack, but the former took advantage of the weakness, knowing that the goal is not to prove a point, it is to win the battle. And a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Ibrahimovic’s match was not about things he can no longer do. It was about maximizing the things he could do. He was the evergreen outlet, when Milan could not play from behind, going over him or taking him to his chest and then delivering accurately and purposefully. At one point, he dived into his old Tae Kwon Do Black Belt playbook, flinging a ball out of the air at head level, twisting his body like an action figure.

If you put the right pieces around him, his powers only multiply. He was never a sprinter – although once the long limbs move, he surprisingly covers the ground very quickly – but with speed merchants like Theo Hernández, Alexis Celemakers and Rafael Leia it matters little . They are distribution drivers, that is the distribution center.

Late in the game, with empty and heavy tanks, Ibrahimovic was still doing very few things to help his team. Unable to press, he found a way to extend his cartoonishly large, long telescopic leg to disrupt a ball and interrupt Inter’s build-up. Moments later he attacked the right touchline to support teammates and saw non-on turnovers passing under the wing, which consumed precious seconds.

They are physical things that we can see and record. The metaphysics effect – the confidence it gives to younger peers, threatens opponents, the human lightning-rod factor – is harder to measure.

Last month, after scoring two goals against Bologna on Opening Day, he said: “I scored [only] Two because i am [nearly] 40 … If I was 20 years old, I would have scored four. ‘

Yes, but only if he was now with 20 mana. Because when he was that age, he was not scoring four goals in a game. In fact, the year he turned 20, he performed six times for Ajax 24 times, which, as we have come to expect from him, was uniquely un-Zlatan.

There will come a point when Milne will need to distance himself, a point where his presence will stunt the development of this young team. We’re not there yet, though. Right now, Milan needs this version of Ibrahimovic: the wise Ibrahimovic, the team-first Ibrahimovic, wounded and drenched with blood, but still hungry, Ibrahimovic. Self portrait Posted on his twitter account, Soon after the final whistle.