The friendly fixture in Stockholm had been arranged to open the Scandinavian outfit's new national stadium, and England manager Roy Hodgson took the opportunity to hand as many as six international debuts to members of his squad.
Steven Caulker, Leon Osman and Raheem Sterling were all handed starts in Stockholm, while Carl Jenkinson, Ryan Shawcross and Wilfried Zaha would be given their chance after the break. It was a bold move by Hodgson, but one that he felt necessary as he looked to the national team's future.
Soon after kickoff, it was immediately evident that the pitch at the Friends Arena wasn't going to help either team's passing game, with divots often being replaced. However, it didn't prevent Osman nearly marking his debut with a goal, but his low shot was saved by Andreas Isaksson.
The visitors had started well, and Gary Cahill almost got on the end of a Steven Gerrard cross, but they were dealt a sucker-punch on 20 minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacted fastest in the penalty area to poke the ball past Joe Hart.
© Getty Images
Mathias Ranegie wasted a glorious opportunity to double the lead for Sweden when he failed to capitalise on a mix-up between Cahill and Hart, and that proved costly as four minutes later, England equalised.
Ashley Young did superbly to turn Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson before crossing for Danny Welbeck to provide the finish for his fifth international goal. England deserved their equaliser, and three minutes later, they edged ahead.
After quickly building some momentum, England earned a free kick in a threatening position, and Gerrard's ball into the box caused mayhem in Sweden's defence, allowing Caulker to score from six yards just 38 minutes into his international debut.
Hodgson had been expected to make sweeping changes to his starting lineup, but he retained the same team, and they returned after the break with every intention of extending their advantage, with Osman and Gerrard both being denied by Isaksson.
However, Hodgson decided to make five substitutions during a 13-minute period, and that proved pivotal as Paris Saint-Germain forward Ibrahimovic proved why he should be regarded as one of the best players in the world with three goals in the closing stages of the match.
© Getty Images
The flamboyant frontman's second of the night came after an exquisite pass from Anders Svensson, which required Ibrahimovic to control the ball on his chest before firing a volley past Hart.
It was a delightful goal to restore parity for his side, but the home crowd were yet to see the best of their national team hero, who completed his hat-trick by thundering a set piece into the far corner of Hart's net, although the England stopper would have been disappointed with his efforts to save the shot.
The life had been taken out of what had been a decent England performance, and they were helpless to prevent a fourth goal from Ibrahimovic that sent shockwaves around Europe.
Hart had headed the ball clear from the edge of his penalty area, but it only found Ibrahimovic, who produced a scintillating overhead kick from 35 yards that looped over the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net.
It was an act of brilliance that strengthened Ibrahimovic's standing at the highest level of the game, and one that provided the springboard for more breathtaking goals in 2013.