Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic likened himself to film character Benjamin Button after inspiring his team to a 3-0 victory at Premier League basement club Sunderland on Sunday.
Ibrahimovic, 35, opened the scoring with his 28th goal of the season and after Seb Larsson had been sent off for Sunderland, goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford completed victory.
“I feel like Benjamin Button. I was born old and will die young,” Ibrahimovic said, citing the 2008 Brad Pitt film about a man who ages in reverse.
United extended their unbeaten record to 21 league games and climbed to fifth place in the table, four points below fourth-place Manchester City, who have played a game more.
“The result was good,” said United manager Jose Mourinho, whose side will return to sixth place if Arsenal win at Crystal Palace on Monday.
“We resisted the results of yesterday when Manchester City and Liverpool won. They left us in a position of ‘yes or no?’ It was ‘yes’.”
United were without goalkeeper David de Gea due to a minor hip injury, with Sergio Romero deputising, but Mourinho expects the Spaniard to be fit for the visit of leaders Chelsea next Sunday.
Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock on the halfhour at the Stadium of Light, fending off Billy Jones and whipping a low shot past Jordan Pickford from 20 yards for his 18th goal of the league campaign.
Sunderland then lost Larsson to a furiously contested straight red card after referee Craig Pawson decided the Swede’s challenge on Ander Herrera had been unduly reckless.
The hosts’ hopes of a comeback evaporated within 46 seconds of kick-off in the second half as Luke Shaw fed Mkhitaryan to drill a low, angled shot beyond Pickford’s dive.