Zlatan Ibrahimovic floors Azpilicueta with vicious off-ball shoulder charge
Zlatan got away with the incident but ended up on the losing side in Seville
Zlatan Ibrahimovic escaped punishment after cameras caught him bringing Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta to the ground with a forceful shoulder charge as Spain edged out Sweden to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup.
The incident occurred towards the end of the game as the pair prepared for a Swedish corner, and has been widely circulated on social media in the time since.
Ibrahimovic, who had entered the game as a substitute, was pictured dropping his shoulder into Azpilicueta's back. The Chelsea defender instantly drops to the deck after contact, with Ibrahimovic - perhaps remembering that he could face a VAR review - sheepishly falling to the floor soon after.
Although the Spaniard required some treatment, he managed to finish the game, as did Zlatan, with the VAR officials not deeming the incident worthy of intervention.
Zlatan floors Azpilicueta with “dark arts”! 😲
Ibrahimovic escaped punishment during the game but has since been banned from the first leg of Sweden’s World Cup play-off tie... pic.twitter.com/7YmEUK8l6i
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) November 15, 2021
Spain were able to book their spot at the World Cup thanks to a single goal from Alvaro Morata in Seville, which came minutes before Zlatan's shoulder charge incident. The Juventus striker was able to turn home the rebound after Dani Olmo's effort had been tipped onto the crossbar.
Luis Enrique's side knew prior to kick-off that they required only a point to reach Qatar, but failed to capitalise on a bright start. Ibrahimovic was introduced as Sweden steadily grew into the game but was unable to have the impact his manager had hoped for.
Spain were able to hold on, continuing their impressive run of reaching every finals since 1974 and consigning Sweden to the play-offs.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spain's Iberian neighbours Portugal were denied an automatic qualification spot in dramatic fashion. Needing just a point to be sure of their place in the finals, they surrendered an early lead to Serbia before Aleksandar Mitrovic's late header saw them drop into the play-off positions.
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