Football

Heynckes praises full-blooded Martinez after reaching last 16

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes paid tribute to Javi Martinez, whose late winner helped the German side reach the last 16 of the Champions League for a 10th successive season.

Martinez, 29, bravely headed home the winner in the 76th minute to secure a 2-1 win over Celtic in Glasgow yesterday morning (Singapore time).

In the process, he suffered a nasty head wound after clashing into Celtic defender Nir Bitton.

Bayern had taken the lead through Kingsley Coman in the 22nd minute, but Celtic drew level through Callum McGregor in the 74th minute.

Heynckes had made Martinez the club's record signing at 40 million euros (S$63m) in 2012.

After Heynckes left the following year, his successors Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti deployed Martinez as a central defender. But Heynckes reinstated the Spaniard as a midfielder after taking over from the sacked Ancelotti last month.

Said Heynckes: "Javi Martinez has previously often played as a central defender, but I have a rather different opinion.

"Since he's been playing in midfield, we have improved our stability and the quality of our whole defensive work.

"In addition to this, he is very dangerous from set-pieces and the marvellous way he scored the excellent winning goal - not many players can do that."

Bayern were missing Robert Lewandowski and the injured Thomas Mueller, but Heynckes was still able to name on-loan Real Madrid star James Rodriguez and Arturo Vidal in the starting line-up.

Lewandowski, who has scored 10 goals in as many Bundesliga games this season, has complained Bayern have no back-up options when he needs a rest. In his place, Coman led the line against Celtic.

The prolific 29-year-old will be back when the Bavarian giants travel to Signal Iduna Park to meet Borussia Dortmund in a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday morning (Singapore time).

Despite the loss, Celtic remain favourites to clinch third spot and a Europa League place ahead of Anderlecht. - WIRE SERVICES


 

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