Misfiring Martinez scores first home goal

MADRID • It was not the best goal he has scored but Jackson Martinez said his deflected effort for Atletico Madrid in Wednesday's 4-0 Champions League Group C win over Astana was like a "release".

The Colombia forward has been struggling to live up to his €35 million (S$55.3 million) price tag since joining Atletico in July and his goal against the Kazakhstan champions was only his second this term in all competitions.

Martinez, 29, was brought in as a replacement for forward Mario Mandzukic but has yet to reproduce his form from the Portuguese league, where he was top scorer in each of his three seasons with Porto.

"It was like a release because of what had been happening in previous games," Martinez said after scoring his first goal at the Vicente Calderon . "I was calm even though the goal wasn't coming. Now I want to keep going the same way."

Martinez should get another chance to add to his tally in Atletico's next outing, a La Liga clash at home to Valencia on Sunday.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone said the reaction of the other players to his goal showed Martinez had their backing. "The position of forward is different to the others," he told a news conference. "You can see how pleased the team were from the television pictures.

"This makes us very happy because it demonstrates the group's support for the player which will without doubt give him confidence and security in himself."

Saul Niguez opened the scoring before Martinez netted, while a goal from substitute Oliver Torres and a Denis Dedchenko's own goal settled proceedings.

Atletico's victory at the Calderon put them level on six points at the top of the group with Benfica, who were beaten 2-1 at Galatasaray. The Turkish club have four points in third, with Astana on one point in fourth place.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'Misfiring Martinez scores first home goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe