Fearless Jackson Martinez to maul Malaga?

Posted by Tom Kundert

To advance to the Champions League quarter-finals FC Porto are likely to need a goal in Malaga. In Jackson "Cha Cha Cha" Martinez they have the man to score it.

Despite dominating Malaga in the first leg, Porto did not create an abundance of chances and it needed an offside Joao Moutinho goal to give the Portuguese side a narrow advantage to take to Spain. The La Liga outfit will certainly provide tougher opposition in front of their own fans, and come into the match having rested their two star players at the weekend, Isco and Joaquin. But in what has the makings of a low-scoring tie, one chance could decide it - especially if it falls to Jackson.

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Malaga's Brazilian defender Weligton is acutely aware of the threat posed by the Colombian. "Jackson Martinez's numbers say it all. Give him the slightest chance and he will score. The FC Porto fans certainly are not longing for Falcao," he said.

So what exactly are those numbers? Twenty-eight goals in 32 matches in all competitions since his summer move from Jaguares of Mexico to the Portuguese champions. That phenomenal return stands up well against his predecessor wearing the Porto number nine shirt and compatriot Falcao. The now Atletico Madrid striker scored 34 goals in his debut season at the Estadio do Dragao. Jackson is on target to surpass that number. Porto fans' biggest worry is whether or not he gets the chance to match or better Falcao's overall record of 73 goals in 83 games for the club. Such has been his impact since crossing the Atlantic that huge bids will surely arrive on president Pinto da Costa's table in the close season.

Just like Falcao, Jackson is lethal with both feet, strong in the air, and is not averse to trying (and pulling off) the spectacular. Another similarity is his excellent link-up play when dropping deeper. Little surprise, therefore, that comparisons with his international team-mate have mushroomed as the goals keep coming. Jackson himself is keen to point out he is not looking to outdo his predecessor.

"Falcao has written his story at this club, while I'm just starting mine. People may think that Falcao is a rival for me, but it's not true. We are good friends. I see him as a good person and someone who, just like me, always gives his best," the 26-year-old recently told uefa.com.

Those words exemplify the likeable character Jackson has shown himself to be in his nine months in Portugal. As one of Porto's chief protagonists this season he is often the man chosen to give his thoughts in the post-match flash interview. He is constantly at pains to share the plaudits with his team-mates. But such niceties do not disguise a fierce will to succeed and an unshakeable belief in his own qualities, as highlighted in the recent victory over high-flying Rio Ave.

Porto had dropped two crucial points in their previous home game, with Jackson's failure to hit the net from the penalty spot proving costly. Porto were awarded another penalty early against Rio Ave. Jackson attempted a "Panenka" and proceeded to cringe in embarrassment as the Rio Ave goalkeeper simply caught the ball that lollipopped conveniently into his midriff, without moving a muscle.

As half time approached, an errant hand from a Rio Ave defender appeared in the box and the referee whistled. Most in the stadium believed Jackson would be relieved of his duties. Captain Lucho Gonzalez thought otherwise. Jackson didn't flinch, and this time converted in conventional style. He added a second late on before looking to the stands and crossing his arms by way of an apology to Porto's fans for his earlier indulgence. Normal service was resumed.

If a penalty is awarded to Porto in the Rosaleda, no prizes for guessing who will step up.

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