Málaga CF claimed a place in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals after a 26th-minute strike from Antonio Sánchez saw off AEK Athens FC. The home side always looked lively, but needing to score twice after conceding the away goal they were always chasing the game.
AEK, who drew 0-0 in Spain, fielded an attacking lineup with Vassilios Tsartas and Grigorios Georgatos both coming into the starting eleven. However, Málaga, who dominated the first leg, made only one change - Sandro replacing the suspended Dário Silva in a formation that allowed the newcomer to combine with Julio Dely Valdes and Kizito Musampa in attack.
That seemed a wise move from Málaga coach Joaquín Peiró. First his team were able to crowd AEK out of midfield, dampening their early initiative. Then they were able to come forward and pierce the AEK defence, while the Greek side had to rely on hopeful crosses with lone striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis increasingly isolated.
There was a warning for AEK after 18 minutes when Marcelo Romero slipped as he looked to turn and shoot, but the home defence continued to be stretched, and the away goal arrived. AEK goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis was teased out of goal to dive and save Musampa's long-range effort, the advancing Dutchman crossed the ball back in, and Chiotis could only touch on to Sánchez, who tapped it into the empty net.
This clearly dampened AEK's spirits, and only right at the end of the half did they really recover, Tsartas setting Vassilios Lakis free for the best chance, but the shot went wide. AEK emerged after the break with lija Ivic on in attack, which allowed them to move deeper into Málaga territory, but clear opportunities rarely emerged.
Indeed, Málaga looked as likely to score on the break. Dely Valdes slipped on 54 minutes as he lined up a shot, and after the hour Chiotis collected an effort from the same player. Nikolaidis had a shot just wide for AEK, but the half's best chance fell to the visitors with Musampa's well-struck attempt hitting Chiotis's legs, as time eventually ran out for the home side.
Málaga's positive play had reaped its reward - a quarter-final against Boavista FC - as they did what Real Madrid CF could not in the UEFA Champions League and beat AEK.
Peiró explained the success after the game, saying: "My players focused and concentrated throughout the 90 minutes. Because of our excellent defence we were able to mount some wonderful counterattacks. When we began in the [UEFA] Intertoto Cup in the summer it was hard to imagine we would make it to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals."
His opposite number Darko Bajevic was downbeat following elimination. "This was one of our worst games ever in a European competition," the AEK coach said. "We made many mistakes, lost our calm, and we lost the ball at a frightening rate."