Juventus do perfect Italian job to knock out Monaco
MONACO: 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.
Chances were scarce, however and the visitors held firm against a Monaco sidlacke, who ed the experience and cutting edge to overturn the 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 did not have the guile to penetrate Juve’s massed defensive ranks.
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 and Monaco’s lack of nous was exposed as the match wore on.
“We went through thanks to our desire to sacrifice, to fight, to reach our goal,” Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon told BeIN Sport.
“I think Juve deserved their qualification. Maybe not for today’s game but for that mindset.”
Monaco were well on top in the early stages and Kondogbia hit a fierce 20-metre strike that flew just over the bar, while Bernardo Silva’s 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, before the visitors, who were without injured midfielder Paul Pogba, began to wake from their slow start as the match wore on.
They nearly found a way through when Pirlo’s pass looked bound for Stephan Lichtsteiner on the edge of the box before Danijel Subasic snatched the chance away from him.
Juventus began to look 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 halftime 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.
The last time Juventus reached the last four they went on to make the final in 2003, before losing to AC Milan on penalties. (Reuters)