Santa Cruz fires Malaga past 10-man Porto

Santa Cruz fires Malaga past 10-man Porto
By Eurosport

14/03/2013 at 12:22

Champions League, last 16 second leg, La Rosaleda - Malaga 2 (Isco 43, Santa Cruz 77) Porto 0; Malaga go through 2-1 on aggregate

Roque Santa Cruz came off the bench to head Malaga into the last eight of the Champions League courtesy of a 2-0 home win over 10-man Porto.

The on-loan Manchester City striker powered home a 77th minute corner to clinch a 2-1 triumph on aggregate after Steven Defour saw red for a second bookable offence.

The inspirational Isco had set the Spanish minnows on their way to victory with a sensational curling effort on 43 minutes after a dour opening to the encounter.

The victory means Malaga join the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona in the quarter-finals in what is their debut campaign in Europe's elite competition.

Porto came into the contest on the back of a 16-match unbeaten run and protecting a narrow first-leg lead.

In contrast, Malaga had won just four times in 2013 and had gone 350 minutes without a goal prior to their weekend draw at Real Valladolid.

Few outside of Spain were giving the Boquerones much hope of progressing and there was little evidence that they could make a fight of it as the first half evolved into a scrappy affair rife with yellow cards and incessant stoppages.

However, the game exploded into life eight minutes before the break when Antunes forced a smart stop out of Porto keeper, Helton with a piledriver from 25 yards.

The chance seemed to lift the hosts and they were left cursing their luck just moments later when referee Nicola Rizzoli controversially disallowed Javier Saviola's tap-in for a foul on Helton after the Brazilian had fumbled a right-wing cross.

The feeling of injustice continued to galvanise Manuel Pellegrini's side and they snatched the lead on 43 minutes when Isco collected a pass 30 yards from goal, dropped his shoulder and curled a sublime shot over Helton and into the far corner of the net.

It was a goal befitting a player who was awarded the 2012 Golden Boy award back in December, an annual prize given by Italian publication Tuttosport to the best U21 player in Europe.

Video - Isco goal in 3D


Malaga sensed it could be their night and the game turned further in their favour four minutes after the interval when Defour received a second yellow for a poor challenge on Joaquin.

It put an end to Porto's threat as an attacking force and Nicolas Otamedi did brilliantly to deny Saviola with a goal saving challenge before Isco saw a shot on the slide smash into the side netting.

Jackson Martinez then lifted a glorious opportunity for the visitors wide of the far post and it proved costly as Malaga struck what proved to be the winning goal 13 minutes from time.

A corner was lifted in from the right and Santa Cruz, on the pitch for all of three minutes, rose majestically to guide a header into the bottom corner.

Video - Santa Cruz's goal in 3D


Porto pressed late on and Maicon saw a header correctly ruled out for offside as the hosts held on to clinch arguably the greatest success of their history to-date.


Isco (Malaga) - Lit up a dour game with a sublime effort that set Malaga on their way to a historic night. It's easy to see why he is regarded as one of the finest up-and-coming talents on the planet.


MALAGA: Willy 6, Gamez 5, Weligton 6, Demichelis 6, Antunes 6, Joaquin 6, Toulalan 6, Iturra 6, Isco 8, Saviola 7, Baptista 6; Subs: Santa Cruz 7, Piazon 5, Camacho 4.

FC PORTO: Helton 5, Danilo 6, Mangala 6, Sandro 7, Otamendi 6, Gonzalez 6, Moutinho 6, Fernando 6, Defour 4, Martinez 6, Varela 6; Subs: Atsu 6, Maicon 5, Rodriguez 5.