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Champions League: Porto 1 Malaga 0

Porto took the upper hand in their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Malaga after winning the first leg at home 1-0 on Tuesday.

Porto took the upper hand in their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Malaga after winning the first leg at home 1-0 on Tuesday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s selection of two strikers lacking mobility in Julio Baptista and Roque Santa Cruz saw the visitors pose very little threat as the hosts dominated possession in the first half at Estadio do Dragao.

However, it was not until the second period that Vitor Pereira’s men made their superiority on count, Joao Moutinho slotting home a tidy finish to win it in the 56th minute.

Porto started brightly as Marat Izmailov shifted the ball onto his right foot but was unable pick out the bottom corner of Willy Caballero’s goal three minutes in.

Things did not continue quite at the same pace, but the hosts still looked the more threatening side in a cagey affair, particularly from set pieces.

In the 20th minute Silvestre Varela flicked on a corner from the near post which narrowly evaded Fernando for a simple finish.

Malaga were finding it difficult to create anything in the opposition’s half, with Isco not seeing enough of the ball to weave his magic in the opening half hour.

Jackson Martinez meanwhile was looking a real handful down the other end. He displayed a real knack for running into space behind the defence but Malaga worked well as a unit to ensure he was not allowed too much freedom.

Malaga only managed a single shot on goal in the first half and a similar pattern followed after the break. Again it was Izmailov who was the danger, but after eluding Antunes he failed to divert Varela’s cross on target from close range.

Jeremy Toulalan then got in a vital block to deny Lucho Gonzalez but it did not take much longer for Porto to find the net.

Alex Sandro split the defence with a fantastic low pass from the left and Moutinho, who waltzed into the area between the centre-backs, guided the ball through the legs of Caballero with a first-time finish.

The goal forced Malaga into rethinking their plan of attack, but the Portuguese outfit were unwilling to relinquish possession to their opponents.

James Rodriguez kept Porto on top after coming on as a substitute, and the hosts were largely untroubled by the toothless visitors.

Pellegrini’s changes failed to bring his side to life as Porto cruised to a comfortable win which was just their 13th victory in 38 meetings with teams from neighbouring Spain.

Malaga will welcome the Portuguese side to La Roselada on March 13.

Tue 19 February, 2013
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