FC Porto vs. Malaga: Final score 1-0, Moutinho gives Porto a dubious, but deserved, first leg victory

Alex Livesey

Porto's João Moutinho scored what appeared to be an offside goal, but the linesman disagreed and Porto will travel to Spain with a 1-0 advantage. Despite the goal, Malaga should be happy with the result and its excellent defensive play.

Malaga's well organized and precocious defense was outstanding for nearly the entire match, but it wasn't quite enough. Porto was able to find a way through thanks to João Moutinho and Fernando and will head to Spain with a 1-0 advantage after the first leg. Moutinho appeared offsides on replays, but given the shear domination by Porto, the win is both dubious and deserved.

Porto dominated from the opening whistle as it was clear that Manuel Pellegrini was perfectly fine with soaking up the pressure from the Portuguese side and hoping for a chance to attack on the counter. There wasn't much attacking of any kind from Malaga in the first half, counter or otherwise, but there was plenty of pressure from Porto for them to deal with.

In the fourth minute, Marat Izmailov did some nice dribbling as he danced around a couple Malaga defenders and created some space at the top of the 18-yard box for himself. His shot wasn't nearly as nice as the effort that led up to it, as it rolled right into the waiting arms of Wilfredo Caballero.

Porto continued to build up the pressure and waas close again in the 15th minute when Jackson Martinez blew past Martin Demichelis trying to get on the end of Nicolás Otamendi's lovely long ball. Demichelis made up for getting burned by making an excellent turn and getting just enough of his head on the ball to tip it out for a corner.

Three minutes later, Porto came ever so close on a corner kick from Moutinho. His free kick was flicked on at the near post by Silvestre Varela, but Fernando, who made a run at the far post, just missed connecting with the ball and it rolled out for a goal kick.

Malaga's defense was well organized throughout the half and made all the plays that were required of them. When you're getting absolutely dominated though, it's a dangerous line to play as one error would have undone all their good work.

Porto got their best chance of the match, up to that point, in the 53rd minute when a quickly whipped in cross found Izmailov in a fully extended slide at the far post. Izmailov had gotten past his Malaga marker, a rare defensive mistake by the Spanish side, but he couldn't direct the ball on frame and it trickled wide of the post.

Three minutes later Porto finally got a much deserved goal.

Fernando finished an excellent run down the left wing with a perfectly placed low cross that just got by the extended leg of a Malaga defender. Moutinho made a perfectly timed run up the middle of the Malaga box and redirected the ball into the net past Caballero to make it 1-0.

Thanks to the benefit of television replays and slow motion, it appeared Moutinho was in a offside position when Fernando released his cross. At full speed, it likely looked like a dead heat between the midfielder and the last defender.

Despite allowing the goal, Malaga should be pleased having held Porto to only one considering how dominant the home side was. There are plenty of positives for Pellegrini and his team to build on going into the second leg at the Estadio La Rosaleda.

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