Malaga vs. FC Porto: Final score 2-0, Isco and Santa Cruz help Malaga advance

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Isco pulled Malaga even in the first half and Roque Santa Cruz scored the tie winner in the 77th minute as Malaga advances to the quarterfinals. Malaga played the final 40 minutes with a man advantage.

Malaga needed two score twice to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals and they did. A first half goal from Isco and late winner from Roque Santa Cruz have the Anchovies swimming into the next round.

The first 35 minutes of the match was fairly tight and defensive with neither team giving the other much space to work with. Malaga were definitely the more aggressive side, challenging the Proto offside trap on several occasions and being wrongly ruled offside twice by the assistant referee.

The play was also ugly with Porto accumulating four yellow cards including a couple challenges that easily could have been red. Nicolás Otamendi received one of the cards for a two-footed sweep on Vitorino Antunes.

Malaga's best chance of the match up to that point came in 36th minute on a botched clearance by Porto. Antunes brought down the ball 25-yards from goal with a nice touch and whizzed a shot back across the box that forced an excellent save from Helton.

In the 40th minute Malaga were basically robbed by the referee and he disallowed a goal from a foul by Júlio Baptista on Helton. The only problem is that not only did Baptista not foul the goalkeeper, he was completely hammered by Danilo and fell in the vicinity of Helton who fumbled the ball. Javier Saviola jumped on the loose ball and scored but the referee waved it off.

Instead of letting the call get them off their game, Malaga poured on more pressure and two minutes later, they got their redemption.

Isco dribbled past two defenders into space just outside the Porto area on the right side. Helton came out off his line in an attempt to close down Isco's angle but the young attacker simple curled a lovely ball over the keeper and into the upper corner of the goal.

Porto's evening got worse just four minutes into the second half when Steven Defour needlessly tripped Joaquin, forcing the referee's hand and earning a second yellow card and a sending off. Joaquín had blown past Defour and was breaking in towards the Porto area but there were defenders back that could have covered. Just not a smart decision but Defour probably should have been sent off in the first half after he committed three rough tackles.

It took awhile for Malaga to find their second goal and with only 13 minutes left to play, nerves were getting high for Malaga fans. At least until Roque Santa Cruz came to the rescue.

In the 77th minute Santa Cruz, who'd just entered the match, powered over the Porto defenders on a corner kick and beat Helton with an excellent header into the bottom left corner of the net. Not bad for his first touch of the match.

Scary moment in the 81st minute for Malaga. Porto defender Maicon headed a free kick past Willy Caballero but the offside flag was up. It was very very close but Maicon was definitely a half-step offside, plus considering Porto's first leg goal was offside and Malaga had a wrongly disallowed goal today, it works out.

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