Joao Moutinho’s controversial second-half goal gave Porto a 1-0 advantage from the first-leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie at the Estadio Do Dragao.
The Portuguese league leaders had the better of the contest, but largely struggled to seriously test Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero. Moutinho’s goal 11 minutes after the break proved the difference, but Malaga have every right to feel aggrieved, with the playmaker clearly in an offside position as he received Alex Sandro’s pass before slotting home.
It was Malaga’s first defeat of what has so far been a memorable maiden Champions League season. While they will have to do far more going forward in the return leg, they have reason to still be optimistic of making it through to the last eight.
Given that they had over 60 percent possession and 18 shots to Malaga’s two, Porto are likely to be somewhat frustrated that their lead is not bigger for the trip to Spain.
The closest Porto came to breaking the deadlock in the opening period came from a Moutinho corner from the right. Silvestre Varela got to the near post in front of his marker but his header went across the face of goal and at the back post Fernando was inches away from being able to turn the ball into the net.
To their credit, Malaga were showing just why they have the best defensive record in La Liga this season. But Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will be disappointed with the space that Alex Sandro was afforded as he moved in from the left to create Porto’s goal.
Yet, although Martin Demichelis had dropped fractionally behind the rest of his defense, Moutinho was a fraction offside as the pass was made and he slotted the ball first time past Caballero. Despite Moutinho’s first reaction being to look across to the referee’s assistant in nervous expectation of a flag, the goal was allowed to stand.
Even after going behind Malaga were unable to muster even a shot on target. Despite their superiority in Portugal, Porto would be unwise to be over confident heading to La Rosaleda, a ground were Milan and Zenit St Petersburg have already fallen victim in the Champions League this season.