Match in a sentence
Malaga overcame a 1-0 deficit in the first leg to defeat 10-man Porto, and becomes the third Spanish team this season to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
- Manuel Pellegrini opted to line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 like he did in the first leg. Pellegrini went with Javier Saviola instead of Roque Santa Cruz, while Isco, Julio Baptista and Joaquin played behind him. Manuel Iturra and Jeremy Toulalan were in charge of shielding the back four.
- Vitor Pereira preferred to assemble his side in a 4-3-3 with Jackson Martinez leading the line, while Varela and Steven Defour were on the flanks. Pereira’s midfield three consisted of Joao Moutinho, Fernando, and Lucho Gonzalez. The only change from the first leg was Defour on the left in place of Marat Izmailov.
- The game for the most part was cagey, and Porto dominated the opening 20 minutes. They kept an extremely high line and they pressed well as a unit, which forced the Malaga players to concede possession. Pellegrini’s men were unable to settle, while Moutinho and Lucho’s energy in the midfield pushed Porto forward but they were unable to create goal-scoring opportunities.
- Another interesting feature in this match was Alex Sandro and Danilo getting forward because Isco and Joaquin ignored their defensive duties. Isco stayed higher up the pitch looking to break on the counter, while Defour drifted centrally allowing Alex Sandro to burst forward. Their runs caused Pellegrini’s men several problems in the opening 20 minutes.
- Porto’s high line left them vulnerable to balls over the top, and they nearly were exposed on three occasions. Joaquin, Saviola and Isco were all ruled offside when balls were sent over the top. Eventually Pereira’s men tired from pressing, and it allowed Joaquin and Isco to become more involved in the game as they drifted centrally. Porto lacked invention in the final third and constantly conceded possession, which also played a part in Malaga taking control of the game.
- Malaga was the better side for the second part of the first half, and they were denied a Saviola goal. Danilo pushed Baptista into Helton and Saviola tapped the ball into the net, but the officials believed Baptista fouled Helton. Minutes later, Isco gave Los Boquerones the lead when his strike from outside the box left Helton humbled. It was a scrappy first half that saw five yellow cards issued, but Isco’s opener displayed the quality that both sides lacked over the two legs.
- Porto were forced to make changes in the second half, James Rodriguez replaced Moutinho, who couldn’t continue in the match due to an injury. Defour went into midfield, while James moved out to the right flank. Four minutes into the second half, Defour received his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Joaquin. Defour probably wasn’t the best option to play in this game, but he did drift centrally to provide another passing option and he linked up with Martinez on a few occasions.
- Throughout the match Martinez was an isolated figure, Porto struggled to link up with the Colombian striker and he was handled well by Martin Demichelis and Weligton. When Porto went a man down, they dropped into a 4-4-1. Pereira brought on Maicon to strengthen the back, and with Sandro tiring in an advanced position, Christian Atsu was introduced.
- Porto sat deeper in two banks of four as Malaga began to dictate the game, and they defended well. Malaga struggled to unlock the defence, and like the first half, they lacked a final ball. It was no surprise that their goal came from a corner kick, and it was substitute Santa Cruz that nodded home the aggregate winner.
- Pereira’s men had a few chances towards the end of the match to nick an away goal when Malaga sat deeper, but they failed to convert their opportunities into goals.
- Over two legs the quality from both sides in the final third was poor, both sides failed to get in behind the opposing team’s defence and Jackson Martinez was fairly quiet. Pereira’s men failed to score and their high line early on always left them vulnerable to concede a goal. This team will have to wait for another season to get past the round of 16, and they’ll need to improve their performances away from home on European nights. Pereira has yet again stumbled in Europe, and his team selection, tactics, and his players’ discipline will be questioned after this result. Ultimately, his job will be in jeopardy if Porto fail to overtake rivals Benfica in their domestic league.
- Vitor Pereira: “The Porto fans will be disappointed for sure, but nobody is more disappointed than the players, the coaches, the board.”
- Malaga’s fairytale run in this competition continues, and they progress from behind like Real Madrid and Barcelona has at this stage. Pellegrini on the night might feel fortunate, as Porto were favourites to progress prior to the red card, but on the night he outclassed Pereira tactically. Even with all the significant departures over the last 12 months, he still finds a way to get the best out of this side. Regardless of what happens in the next round, it’s results like this, that Malaga supporters will cherish forever.
- Manuel Pellegrini – “We played a complete game. We are now among the best eight teams in Europe and we will continue to fight to get through to the semi-finals. It has been a very special year and you must give credit to what this team has been doing on bot the domestic and the European fronts.”
3. Jeremy Toulalan