The game was billed as a clash of styles, with the best attack in Europe taking on the finest defence. The Italians came through the test courtesy of a double from Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.Monaco 0-2 Juventus
(Higuain 29′, 59′)
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Juventus delivered a hammer blow to Monaco’s Champions League hopes.
The game was billed as a clash of styles, with Monaco’s free-scoring attack taking on Juve’s seemingly impenetrable defence. And for all of Monaco’s exuberant young talent, the wise old defence of Juventus proved too savvy for their exciting but inexperienced opponents. The Old Lady has now gone over 600 minutes since conceding in the Champions League.
The triple axis of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Andrea Barzagli soaked up everything Monaco were able to throw at them. A Catenaccio masterclass, Juventus sat deep and counter-attacked with precision and pace, executing Massimiliano Allegri’s gameplan to perfection.
Juventus’ opening goal came just before the half-hour mark, and was a majestic team move. The excellent Miralem Pjanic started the move, Dani Alves delivered a brilliant backheel assist and Higuain calmly slotted beyond Danijel Subasic. The Argentine goalscorer vaulted over the advertising hoardings and raced towards the traveling support, pumping his fist in front of the delirious away fans.
Kylian Mbappe, the 18-year-old Monaco forward who went into this game with 16 goals from his previous 16 games, should have done better when he discovered a pocket of space within the Juve defence, but directed his free header straight at Gianluigi Buffon.
The Juventus goalkeeper, incidentally, chalked up his 100th Champions League appearance for Juventus and becomes only the second Italian player (after Paolo Maldini) to reach the milestone for a single club. Buffon played his part at the Stade Louis too, saving at the near post to deny Mbappe and later reacting to Valere Germain’s bullet header with a crucial fingertip save.
Monaco continued to enjoy much of the ball, but Juve’s expert pressing reduced their influence and frustrated the home side. The inventive Bernando Silva is usually Monaco’s creative hub in attacking midfield, but Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio marshaled him expertly.
Juventus turned the screw just before the hour mark, and again the impressive Dani Alves assisted the ruthless Higuain. Paolo Dybala pinched the ball from Tiemoue Bakayoko and found Alves, whose floated cross from the right was slid in first time by Higuain. His match-winning performance was long overdue, with the striker laboring in the competition this season.
The visitors continued to sit back, safe in the knowledge that Monaco would struggle to break them down. Allegri’s side stayed in control all the way to the final whistle, which was met with a hushed realization from the home support that they had been taught a lesson by their Italian visitors.
Barring an unlikely turnaround in each semifinal, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will host a heavyweight showdown between Juventus and Real Madrid on June 3.
As it happened: