By FOX SPORTS Staff
With Porto holding a slender one goal advantage from the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie with Malaga at the Estádio do Dragão , Los Boquerones knew that nothing but a win in the second leg would grant them passage into the next round of the competition.
Despite heading into the second leg as the underdogs, Malaga defied expectations to beat Porto at the La Rosaleda on Wednesday, with goals from Isco and Roque Santa Cruz sufficient to see off the challenge of the spirited Portuguese giants.
With the win, Pellegrini claims his side can now lay claim to being one of the biggest teams in European club football and praised his players for their momentous achievements.
"We are now among the best eight teams in Europe and we will continue to fight to get through to the semi-finals," Pellegrini was quoted as saying by the official Champions League website.
"It has been a very special year and you must give credit to what this team have been doing on both the domestic and the European fronts.
"As for the draw, it would be ideal not to come up against a Spanish side as I believe we would have a better chance of getting through. That said, whoever we draw, we draw."
Pellegrini also thanked the home fans for their rapturous support and highlighted the importance of his side's first goal.
"The atmosphere was incredible and our supporters deserve this victory," Pellegrini added.
"My players' hearts were beating fast but at the same time they had clear heads.
"Isco's goal brought a sense of calm and from then on we started to play well with the ball. We played a complete game.
"We were coming up against a good team so we had to play a very intelligent game and we did so.
"We started a little bit nervously in the opening 25 minutes but Porto didn't have a clear chance in that time.
"Towards the end of the first half and into the second we started playing well."
Meanwhile, Porto coach Vitor Pereira pinpointed Steven Defour's sending off in the 49th minute and the injury to midfielder Joao Moutinho as the key moments which changed the course of the game.
"[Steven] Defour's sending-off and João Moutinho's injury influenced the match," Pereira said.
"Málaga played very aggressively, especially from the middle of the first half, in front of their supporters, and the yellow cards we collected hindered our football.
"Moutinho started to feel uncomfortable and they scored right at the end of the first half. Then the second started with the red card for Defour and the game became more difficult.
We are sad with the exit and we understand that the supporters are sad. But we are all sad."
Malaga's next game sees them take on Espanyol in the La Liga.