Madrid: Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had soccer pundits purring on Sunday but not because of the goal that gave the champions a 1-0 win at Real Mallorca on the previous evening to put the champions top of La Liga.
It was a piece of rarely seen improvisation that caught the eye and prompted praise for the way the Swede creates space and scoring chances for his team mates.
Pedro sent over a deep cross from the right and Ibrahimovic, seeing Lionel Messi in space behind him, used his back to direct the ball into the Argentina forward's path.
Although Messi fired his first-time shot over the bar, Marca daily dubbed the move by the former Inter Milan striker "an amazing trick".
Juan Cruz, a columnist in AS, said Ibrahimovic's play created space that his predecessor Samuel Eto'o, who went to Inter in a swap deal with Ibrahimovic last summer, would have been unwilling to relinquish.
"Generosity probably doesn't feature very highly in Ibrahimovic's character but he certainly plays in a way that opens up space that allow his team mates to penetrate more easily," Cruz wrote.
"Lionel Messi's game has improved with Ibrahimovic on the pitch," he added.
The Swede himself said in a television interview after the Mallorca game it was a shame Messi had failed to score.
"It would have been sweet," he said with a shrug.
First Published: Sunday, March 28, 2010, 17:32