Champions League - Santa Cruz fires Malaga past 10-man Porto

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

Serie A - Santa Cruz due for Bologna medical

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Roque Santa Cruz scores the winner for Malaga last season (AFP)

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.

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.

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.


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