Malaga’s fairytale season continued as they progressed into the next round of the UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 win over FC Porto at the La Rosaleda Stadium.
The Portugese side led the tie after a 1-0 first leg victory, but goals from Isco and Roque Santa Cruz helped condemn Porto after Steven Defour’s red card.
It was the highest point of a miraculous campaign for Malaga who, despite being in financial turmoil, are into the next round of Europe’s premier competition.
The first half was a slow one, with Malaga and Porto nervously knocking the ball around with neither side looking to open up the game. It took 36 minutes for the first real chance and Vitorino Antunes was unlucky to see his fierce long-range shot tipped over by Helton in the Porto goal.
Just after, Malaga were furious after Javier Saviola had a goal disallowed when it should have resulted in a penalty. Isco’s cross from the right was towards Julio Baptsita, but the former Arsenal man was pushed into the goalkeeper by Danilo, and Saviola tapped the ball into the empty net. Unfortunately for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, the referee didn’t see Danilo’s push and pulled the action back, claiming Baptista fouled the goalkeeper.
It wouldn’t matter for long though as Isco gave Malaga the lead, with a piece of real quality. The highly-rated youngster picked up the ball on the edge of the box before unleashing a curling strike that beat Helton, and flew into the top corner and put the tie back in the balance.
Malaga didn’t want the half-time whistle, but it was after the interval that it got better for them as a piece of stupidity put the game in the home side’s hands. Steven Defour had already booked when he decided to bring down the lung-bursting run of Joaquin, and the referee had no choice to bring out the second yellow card and send the midfielder off.
The Spanish side looked to take advantage of the extra man, and only some good defending denied them from taking the lead in the tie. The ball fell loose in the penalty area and Saviola raced onto it and fired a shot away, but a good block from Nicolas Otamendi stopped a certain goal. Just after, Isco slammed wide from a tight angle after Jeremy Toulalan over-hit a simple pass.
Pellegrini decided it was time to bring on Santa Cruz, and the substitution worked with magical results. Just a few minutes after coming on, the former Blackburn Rovers striker powerfully headed in Isco’s corner and the celebrations started inside the stadium. With Malaga now leading the tie, it was set for a nervous end to the game for the home supporters.
That was made worse when Porto had a goal disallowed correctly. James Rodriguez whipped in a free-kick that fell perfectly for Maicon who headed into the bottom corner only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Kyle Dixon