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Updated: September 1, 2009 15:31 IST

Ibrahimovic scores as Barcelona opens with win

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauds after scoring against Sporting Gijon during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain.
AP Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauds after scoring against Sporting Gijon during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his debut on Monday as Barcelona began its Spanish league title defence with a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon.

The Sweden striker dived low in the 82nd minute to head in Daniel Alves’ deflected cross to round out the scoring.

Earlier, Bojan Krkic and Seydou Keita had also scored from headers at the Camp Nou, where the Catalan club opened its season without star forward Lionel Messi who had travelled to Argentina to prepare for Saturday’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

Keita flicked on a corner toward the far post in the 17th minute and Krkic headed home to open the scoring. The Mali midfielder then met Alves’ swinging cross in the 42nd to beat Juan Pablo with another powerful header.

“Every rival is important, so it was important to win today,” Alves said.

But Barcelona also learned that it will be without Krkic for two to three weeks with a leg injury that forced the teenage striker off in the 80th minute.

New signing Dmytro Chygrynskiy watched on from the stands after the Catalan club completed the Ukraine defender’s euro25 million ($36 million) transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk earlier on Monday.

Maxwell also made his debut alongside former Inter Milan teammate Ibrahimovic, but was replaced by Eric Abidal in the 57th minute with a leg injury.

Barcelona paid euro66 million ($95 million) and sent leading striker Samuel Eto’o to Inter Milan in order to bring Ibrahimovic to the Camp Nou, and it was certainly a relief to the crowd, the Sweden striker and his teammates when he opened his account.

“He just arrived, he needed to find his rhythm, know his teammates,” Alves said. “But we always knew the goals would come because of his quality.”

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