Colombia striker Jackson Martinez has showered praise on team-mate James Rodriguez after the midfielder's goal against Japan made him the country's highest scorer in a FIFA World Cup™. The Colombians defeated Japan 4-1 to top Group C and advance to the Round of 16.
22-year-old Rodriguez scored his third goal of the tournament and set up two others on Tuesday in Cuiaba. The Monaco winger had previously scored in his team's 3-0 win over Greece and 2-1 triumph over Ivory Coast.
"It's impressive to see how James has improved," Martinez said to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. "I knew him from FC Porto and I see that now in France he has matured so much.
"The talent he has is something that cannot be questioned. He is having a great tournament."
It's impressive to see how James has improved.
With star striker Radamel Falcao ruled out because of a knee injury prior to the start of the World Cup, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman needed Rodriguez and Martinez to step up. Martinez, who plays for Portuguese giants FC Porto, struck twice in the second half against Japan to open his goal tally in Brazil.
"I've been working for this moment," the 27-year-old Martinez said. "I was patient but I knew that God had chosen a time for me and it's this one, at this World Cup.
"The first half against Japan was difficult because we had a lot of opportunities to score but they attacked well and created some danger. Things went our way in the second half and we showed the strength that has characterised us in this tournament."
Martinez also applauded goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who played the last five minutes of Tuesday's game. Mondragon became the oldest ever player at a World Cup at 43 years and three days old.
"He was delighted to play," Martinez said. "It's a lot of merit what he has done in his career. He is here to bring his experience and to be of use with the quality he has to defend our goal."