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Soccer-Martinez provides perfect Bayern swansong

BUDAPEST, Sept 24 (Reuters) - If Javi Martinez is set to leave Bayern Munich, he crafted the perfect farewell letter by firing his side to a 2-1 victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup on Thursday.

Martinez, who local media reported is about to return to Athletic Bilbao eight years after leaving the Spanish club for Bayern, had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he headed home the decisive goal in extra time.

The Spaniard had let out a rallying cry just before a corner was taken and appeared in the right place at the right time to guide the ball into the net after Sevilla keeper Bono had tipped away a volley from David Alaba.

It was not the first time Martinez had proved decisive in the Super Cup, also scoring from the bench in extra-time against Chelsea in 2013 to force a penalty shootout which his side went on to win and earn their first trophy under Pep Guardiola.

The goal in Budapest was a rare thing for Martinez, who has faded into obscurity in recent years due to injuries and loss of form, starting only six Bundesliga games last season and playing no part in the “Final Eight” Champions League tournament which Bayern won.

“You can always count on him, whenever he comes on he always gives 100% out there and has the experience and mentality to win games like he did today, that was the key,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said.

“As for his future, it is not the most important thing right now, it is something he has to decide for himself.”

Flick has used Martinez sparingly since taking over as Bayern coach last year but is not the only coach to struggle to find a role for the player, who can operate as a defensive midfielder and a centre back.

He has only started more than half of Bayern’s league campaigns on three occasions, while he missed almost all of the 2014-15 season after rupturing knee ligaments.

“I always want to give 100% for Bayern and I showed that today,” Martinez said.

“Even if I only play 10 or 15 minutes, I try to help the team and I did that today with my goal.

“Now I want to celebrate with the team and my team mates. As long as I am in Munich I will give all I have for the team and defend this shirt.” (Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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