Julio Dely Valdés scored the only goal of the game as Málaga CF overcame Boavista FC in a hard-fought encounter at La Rosaleda, giving Joaquín Peiró's side a valuable 1-0 lead ahead of their UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg in Porto.
The home side began the game cautiously. Málaga, in their debut European season, began their campaign in the UEFA Intertoto Cup last summer and now find themselves within touching distance of the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
Dely Valdés goal
Then, on 18 minutes, the game sprang into life. Dário Silva trapped the ball on the right. The Boavista defence, expecting the Uruguayan international to run at them, stood off. Silva spied Dely Valdés at the far post, and delivered a low, curling cross which the striker latched on to before making no mistake from close range.
Both sides then pushed forward in search of chances. Kizito Musampa, the Dutch winger, looked especially lively, and Boavista's defence struggled to contain him. The tempo continued to increase and Marcelo Romero, Pedrosa and Rui Óscar were all booked within five fiery first-half minutes.
Just a minute before the break, goalkeeper Ricardo was called upon to keep his side in the game. Málaga worked a clever free-kick, setting up Musampa for a left-footed drive which Ricardo was equal to.
Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco made two changes at the break, introducing Bosingwa and Luiz Cláudio for Jorge Silva and Rui Óscar. The changes failed to have the desired impact, however, as the visitors struggled to create clear-cut chances against a Málaga defence most admirably marshalled by Roteta and Fernando Sanz.
António Sánchez, marauding down the right flank, created a great opportunity on the hour mark. Wriggling free of his marker he strode along the by-line into the box. He then attempted to slide the ball to an unmarked Dely Valdés, but Ávalos made a desperate, yet crucial, interception.
Two minutes later, Boavista almost equalised. The impressive Pedrosa fired in a corner which the strapping Luiz Cláudio, could only glance across goal. Ávalos managed to get on to the ball at the far post, but his flicked effort hit the side-netting.
Ricardo then made a crucial save in the 87th minute. The tall substitute Canabal cut in from the left and his low, right-footed shot seemed destined for the bottom corner. However, Ricardo flung himself across to make a save that keeps the tie alive.