Champions League: 3 Spanish Teams into Last Eight After Malaga Beat Porto
Spain will be well-represented once again in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League after Malaga became the third side from La Liga to make it through to the last eight, following Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Malaga turned around a first leg 1-0 deficit to overcome FC Porto 2-0 at home, to win 2-1 on aggregate.
They were helped on their way by two correctly disallowed offside goals for Porto in the second half and a red card for midfielder Steven Defour shortly after the break. The Belgian was shown a second yellow for raking his studs foolishly down the back of winger Joaquin's legs after the Malaga man had beaten him for skill.
Substitute Roque Santa Cruz scored the all-important second goal just 12 minutes from time, heading past goalkeeper Helton after a corner kick, but it was the first-half strike from Isco which will have everybody talking.
The talented youngster found room to take a touch and loft a beautiful dipping effort into the far top corner, putting Malaga ahead just a minute after Javier Saviola had harshly seen a goal ruled out for a foul in the buildup.
Porto never really threatened Malaga's penalty area enough to suggest they could find the away goal that would have meant the Spanish side needed to score three times, with star striker Jackson Martinez starved of service.
While Porto exit, Malaga will look forward to the quarterfinal draw to see who they need to get past next to continue their terrific season in Europe.
With no country protection in the next stage, they could easily find themselves playing against either of their domestic rivals Barça or Real, though they could be forgiven for hoping to avoid them until the semifinal stages at least.
Bayern Munich also progressed on Wednesday night courtesy of an eventual away goals win over Arsenal, meaning Germany will have two representatives in the last eight, Borussia Dortmund being the other.
Who will win the UEFA Champions League 2013?
Italian league leaders Juventus, Turkish champions Galatasaray and French contenders Paris Saint-Germain make up the rest of the quarterfinal contingent.
Any of them could yet turn out to be the 2013 Champions League victors, but Malaga continue to show the strength in depth of La Liga, which stands a good chance of seeing the eventual winners being a representative from the Spanish league once again.
Juventus and Barcelona will likely be seen as the favourites now after Bayern's near-collapse against Arsenal, but in truth the German sides will both remain formidable opposition who can realistically hope to beat any of the other teams over two legs.
PSG remain an outside bet, with their mix of expensive talent and relative European inexperience; while Real Madrid, under the guidance of Champions League expert Jose Mourinho, should certainly never be ruled out.
The semifinal draw will reveal the path to glory for the sides still involved, and should provide some clues to the rest of us watching on as to who will contest the final itself.
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