Monaco v Juventus: Five things we learned as Gonzalo Higuain double secured victory for the Old Lady

Samuel Lovett
The Independent
Juventus vs Monaco: What time does it start, what TV channel is it on and where can I watch it?
Juventus vs Monaco: What time does it start, what TV channel is it on and where can I watch it?

Gonzalo Higuain's double secured a 2-0 victory for Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Monaco.

The result leaves the French side with it all to play for in next week's return fixture but puts the Italians in reaching distance of the final.

READ MORE: Higuain double puts Juventus in control

READ MORE: Football reaches out to Aaron Lennon

Here's five things we learned:

Tight contest becomes easy one to call

This was billed as the meeting of an irresistible force against an immovable object. If something was going to give in this first leg, it was supposed to fall in favour of Monaco, the side with the slim advantage of playing at home.

However, now that Jardim’s side have failed to make the most of their match at the Stade Louis II, it is hard to see how they can qualify for the final in Cardiff. Juventus did exactly what they needed to, stealing their host's thunder and leaving them with far too much to do in Turin.

It was an accomplished, mature performance from Allegri’s men and all they have to do is repeat it in their own backyard. Suddenly, this tight contest is a lot easier to call.

Higuain proves his worth

Critics had questioned Juventus’ decision to cash out £75.3m on the forward, but the Argentine looks to have proved his worth tonight. The year-old has now scored 31 goals across all competitions this season for the Old Lady, but this evening’s strikes could well be the most valuable with a place in the final of the Champions League now in reaching distance.

Up until his opener, though, the Argentine had looked off the boil. He struggled to test Subasic with the opportunities that he’d been gifted and, at one point, even fell over his own feet as he made a beeline for goal. But his previous shortcomings didn’t stop him from stroking home the opener with the aura of composure and experience you’d expect from a £75.3m signing. He showed his predatory instincts for the second to double Juventus’ lead and consolidate the victory. Reliable, hard-working and clinical, the Argentine got the job done.

Italian defence digs deep

It was a challenging game for the Juventus defence, there’s no denying that. From the off the Monaco frontline tested the visiting backline, with Kylian Mbappe coming close in the early passages of the game. After just 10 minutes the Frenchman capitalised on a lapse in concentration at the back to fire in a sharp header from six yards out. Moments later, the youngster beat Chiellini at his near post to let loose with a testing volleyed shot that forced Buffon into another save.

Indeed, for much of the game the Italian backline was kept busy, with Barzagli in particular struggling at times to keep Monaco’s pace down the right flank under wraps. Still, the visitors dug deep, with their experience and resilience seeing them through to the end. European football's best defensive team, the stubborn Old Lady, the immovable object: call them what you like, the Juventus defence is unparalleled. In the face of adversity, they stuck it out and, after Higuain’s brace, did what they do best in winding the game down.

Juventus showcase their collective class

Juventus' opening goal was a thing of beauty and one that showcased the collective class of the side. Put simply, this was one of the best team goals of the tournament. After breaking up play inside their own half, the Italians methodologically set about working the ball forward, with a series of flicks and quick passes helping it along the way.

AS IT HAPPENED: Monaco host Juventus in Champions League semi-final

READ MORE: Manchester United have £72m bid for Mbappe rejected

It was Dani Alves, though, who provided the urgency and dynamism going forward, linking up with Higuain in a neat one-two inside the home side's final third before setting up the Argentine with the cheekiest of back-heels. From 10 yards out, Higuain did the rest and with one clean stroke of his right boot picked out the bottom left-hand corner. From start to finish, the Italians were clinical and purposeful in their movement and play. A fine team goal.

Monaco's frontline comes up short

Monaco headed into tonight’s game as one the most tenacious and dangerous sides going forward in all of Europe. Led by the resurgent Radamel Falcao and the youngster on everyone's lips - Kylian Mbappe – most had expected the side to find the back of the net at least once this evening. After all, they have been knocking away goals for fun on both the domestic and European stage, with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund all succumbing to their fire power.

But on this occasion, the home side’s frontline came up short. Monaco certainly enjoyed their fair share of chances throughout the game, and pressed on until the bitter end, but this time round they were unable to find a way through. Against the might of the Italian defence, Monaco simply didn’t have the answers. As a result, they now have a mountain to climb in Turin.

What to read next