(Reuters) – Joao Moutinho grabbed the only goal and put on a midfield master class as twice former winners Porto scored a 1-0 win over Malaga in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday.
Porto enjoyed most of the possession against the visitors but had to wait until the second half to break the deadlock.
Brazilian left back Alex Sandro slid a pinpoint pass into the area that Moutinho coolly side-footed in after 56 minutes.
Replays showed Moutinho was offside but the goal was given despite strong appeals from the Malaga players.
Champions League debutants Malaga defended resolutely in the first half but were innocuous up front with Roque Santa Cruz and Julio Baptista kept quiet by Porto’s back four.
The coaches, Porto’s Vitor Pereira and Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini, said they expected plenty of attacking football but, in the first half at least, the show fell short of expectations.
In the second period Moutinho, 26, showed just why he is so coveted by Europe’s big-spending teams.
With a battery of scouts in the stands, he dictated the pace of play, recovered dozens of lost balls and also found the energy to show up in the box.
"Losing is never a good thing but losing 1-0 is the best we could have hoped for," Malaga defender Martin Demichelis told the Spanish television broadcaster TVE. "It was a shame we came up against fantastic opponents who knew how to pressure us and controlled the ball well.
"We couldn’t be the team we usually are but we’ll give it our all in Malaga and try to put them under the same kind of pressure in the second leg. We definitely have a chance to turn it around."
(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga in Lisbon, editing by Tony Jimenez)
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