Malaga worthy winners in Pellegrini's eyes
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini was full of praise for his side after they defeated Porto 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Trailing 1-0 after the first leg in Portugal, goals from Isco and Roque Santa Cruz saw the Spaniards take a 2-1 aggregate victory and book a place in the quarter-finals in their first ever outing in the competition.
Their cause was aided when Porto's Belgian midfielder Steven Defour was sent off four minutes into the second half for a second bookable offence, but Pellegrini felt confident his team could go through even without the numerical advantage.
"Always when you play with one player less it is more difficult but we already played better in the last 15 minutes of the first half and the majority of the second until the Porto player was sent off," he said.
"It was a definite red card, there was a big hit to Joaquin.
"It changed the game (the first goal) because after half an hour we stopped giving the ball away to Porto, but they didn't create chances, and we managed to keep a cool head despite having fire in our stomach in order to avoid conceding a goal.
"I think the team had a brilliant game with the exception of a 15 minute period where we started the game highly charged."
Pellegrini is hoping to avoid the other Spanish teams left in the competition, with Barcelona and Real Madrid still in the draw, but accepts that at this stage they must be prepared to face anyone.
"Ideally, we would avoid the two Spanish teams, not only for the power of Real Madrid and Barcelona, also because of its conflict for Spanish football," he said.
"But we will have to accept whoever we get and we will carry on trying to be in semi-final."