Gonzalo Higuain’s double handed Juventus the advantage in their Champions League semi-final first leg with Monaco.
Hoping to become the second Italian club to win the treble of domestic league, cup and European cup after Inter in 2009/10, the visitors were superb right from the off, and took a deserved lead 29 minutes in.
The build-up play was sublime in the extreme, with Dani Alves impressively backheeling to set up Higuain to open the scoring. That was the Argentina international’s first Champions League knockout round goal since April 2013.
Then, just before the hour mark the same pair combined to devastating effect to make it 2-0, with Higuain sliding the ball home after Alves had picked him out. Having never scored an away goal in the Champions League knockout stages before this first leg, Higuain now has two to his name.
Monaco have scored 146 goals in all competitions this season, but even they couldn’t find a way through this impenetrable Juventus side, who have not conceded a goal in Europe’s premier competition in more than 600 minutes. The tie is not over yet, but it will take an Herculean effort from the Principality club to secure a first Champions League final appearance since 2004.
Experience triumphs over youth. This Monaco side have won plenty of plaudits this season for their exhilarating football, but even goal machine Kylian Mbappe couldn’t find a way past the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal. The Old Lady’s back three had seen it all before, and marshalled the young hitman brilliantly. Even Cristiano Ronaldo might not be able to breach this most resolute rearguard.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Dani Alves. There were plenty of candidates for Juventus, but two wonderful assists from Alves earns him the award. The backheel for the first was sumptuous, while his cross from Higuain’s second was inch-perfect. Why on earth did Barcelona let him go?
Monaco: Subasic 6, Dirar 6, Glik 6, Jemerson 5, Sidibe 4, Fabinho 5, Bakayoko 5, Silva 5, Lemar 5, Falcao 4, Mbappe 6. Subs: Moutinho 6, Germain 6, Toure N/A.
Juventus: Buffon 8; Barzagli 7, Bonucci 8, Chiellini 7, Alex Sandro 7; Pjanic 8, Marchisio 7; Dani Alves 9, Dybala 8, Mandzukic 8; Higuain 8. Subs: Lemina N/A, Rincon 6, Cuadrado 6.
10’ - CHANCE! A sublime pass from Miralem Pjanic picks out Alves down the right, he volleys a cross in Gonzalo Higuain's direction, but the Juve hitman cannot quite connect with the header.
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