Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes centre stage with hat-trick for LA Galaxy in Los Angeles derby

In a battle between the MLS' two leading strikers, it was the 37-year-old Swede who came out on top

Jul 19, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) celebrates his goal during the second half against the Los Angeles FC at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic lived up to his "big game" reputation by scoring a hat-trick for LA Galaxy in a 3-2 Major League Soccer win over Los Angeles rivals LAFC.

The 37-year-old Swedish striker showed he is still capable of astounding feats by dominating the smaller LAFC defence and scoring when it counted for his second career MLS hat trick.

"When you play against a rival like that, in a full stadium, I get pumped. I get adrenaline. This is considered to be the biggest game in the league and I show up in the biggest games," said Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic, who has a flair for the dramatic since joining the MLS in 2018, boasted prior to Friday's game that he is "by far" the best player in the league despite Carlos Vela's superior stats.

The pre-game hype was about the marquee matchup between Galaxy's Ibrahimovic and LAFC's Vela. The duo scored all five goals, but it was the Swede who delivered in the key moments, scoring in the eighth, 56th and 70th minutes.

Galaxy depend almost entirely on Ibrahimovic in attack and he thanked them with another hat-trick performance against the top ranked team in the league.

"I am in playoff mode every day," said Ibrahimovic.

Vela scored his league leading 20th and 21st goals in the fourth and 97th minutes for LAFC, who were hoping to stake their claim to North American football supremacy with a win on Friday. Vela now has five more goals than Ibrahimovic, who is in second place.