Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Juventus do perfect Italian job to knock out Monaco

No way through: Juve held firm against a Monaco side who lacked the experience and cutting edge to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the quarter-final first leg

By Julien Pretot

A trademark display of grit and resilience earned Juventus a goalless draw at Monaco as the Italian side qualified for the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2003 with a 1-0 aggregate victory on Wednesday.

Juve, the first Italian team to reach the last four of Europe’s premier club competition since Inter Milan in 2010, were under the cosh throughout.

They held firm, however, against a Monaco side, who lacked the experience and cutting edge to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the quarter-final first leg.

The hosts, who eliminated Arsenal in the previous round, dominated possession and Geoffrey Kondogbia was a big influence in midfield but Leonardo Jardim’s side lacked the guile to penetrate Juve’s massed defensive ranks.

Juventus, who were without injured midfielder Paul Pogba, reached the final in 2003, before losing to AC Milan on penalties.

It was a case of youth versus experience as Juventus’s Andrea Pirlo and Patrice Evra had 30 more Champions League appearances than the whole home side’s starting team.

Giorgio Chiellini was shown a yellow card in the first minute after he reached for the ball with his hand after slipping a few metres in front of his area.
Monaco were well on top in the early stages and Kondogbia hit a fierce 20-metre strike that flew just over the bar.

Bernardo Silva raced into the area and his low cross was almost deflected into his own net by Andrea Barzagli in the 15th minute.
Kondogbia continued to shine in midfield and had another chance but shot straight at Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus woke up a little as the game wore on and nearly found a way through when Pirlo’s pass almost found Stephan Lichtsteiner on the edge of the box before Danijel Subasic snatched the chance away from him.

Juventus looked increasingly fragile on the left side of their defence and Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal was lucky not to concede a penalty when he appeared to bring Kondogbia down in the box, but referee William Collum waved play on.

Jardim replaced midfielder Jeremy Toulalan with Dimitar Berbatov at half-time and added fresh blood up front by switching Anthony Martial with Valere Germain 14 minutes form time, but it failed to unsettle Juventus, who saw the game out comfortably.


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