Clinical Juventus too much for Monaco
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
First-half goals from Mario Mandžukić and Dani Alves ended the challenge of Monaco's vibrant young side and took Juventus into a second final in three years with a 4-1 aggregate win.
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Juventus reached the UEFA Champions League final for the second time in three years as first-half goals from Mario Mandžukić and the irrepressible Dani Alves ended the challenge of Monaco's vibrant young side.
Two-nil to the good from the semi-final first leg, and having not conceded a UEFA Champions League goal in 621 minutes, Juve nearly came unstuck within four minutes as Kylian Mbappé's shot came back off the upright – although the offside flag had already been raised. The hosts then lost Sami Khedira to a hamstring injury, Claudio Marchisio coming on, and gradually Juve settled.
They twice passed up golden chances to extend their aggregate advantage, Gonzalo Higuaín clipping a shot over Danijel Subašić that Kamil Glik cleared, before the Monaco goalkeeper blocked from Mandžukić as the Croatian closed on goal.
In the 33rd minute, Mandžukić was more clinical – although he needed a second attempt to convert Dani Alves's cross, rounding off a swift counterattack by firing high into the net after Subašić had saved his header.
Subašić's fine first-half display continued with stops from Higuaín and Paulo Dybala, yet on the stroke of half-time – after he had punched clear a corner – luck was against the keeper once more as Dani Alves's superb volley escaped his dive to double Juve's lead on the night.
With the tie effectively over, Monaco chased a consolation goal in the second half, Gianluigi Buffon denying Mbappé as Juve sought to keep their clean-sheet run going. From the resulting corner, though, João Moutinho set up Mbappé to curtail that streak at 600 minutes. It gave Monaco the last word in the tie, but the glory belonged to Juve.
Key player: Dani Alves (Juventus)
Dani Alves was the tie's outstanding figure. Revelling in the greater attacking freedom afforded by a shift to three at the back, the Brazilian followed up two first-leg assists by creating another goal and then scoring a fabulous one himself. After turning 34 in between the two legs, Dani Alves is enjoying his football as much as ever and he'll fancy adding another UEFA Champions League winners' medal to the three collected at Barcelona.
'Mr No Good' gets his reward
It was fitting that Mandžukić broke the deadlock, and at the second attempt: further proof of how determined the forward really is. His team-mates call him 'Mr No Good' because he never seems happy but Mandžukić is a crowd favourite at the Juventus Stadium, particularly for his commitment and how selflessly he works to help an already formidable defence. The goal was a deserved reward.
Monaco's shape shifting
Nabil Dirar's last-minute withdrawal led to Monaco playing three at the back for the first time this season. Benjamin Mendy, brought in for the injured Dirar, tested his own injured hamstring with raids down the left and dangerous crosses, while Bernardo Silva's pressing from a more central position than usual hustled Juventus in the opening exchanges.
Well marshalled by a man twice his age in Andrea Barzagli, Mbappé only started looking dangerous once Monaco changed to a more familiar system, following Mendy's own removal early in the second period. Aged 18 years 140 days, the teenager nonetheless managed to become the youngest scorer in a UEFA Champions League semi-final.
Paolo Menicucci, Juventus (@UEFAcomPaoloM)
Another game, another show of Juventus's strength. After frustrating Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar over two quarter-final matches, the Bianconeri's watertight defence limited another lethal attack in Monaco to just one goal in 180 minutes of football. Extremely focused at the back, Massimiliano Allegri's men also played with visible joy going forward as they moved the ball magnificently quickly. Juve reached the final somewhat surprisingly two years ago but this time they will face the last hurdle with much more confidence.
David Crossan, Monaco (@UEFAcomDavidC)
As in the principality, Monaco were comfortably second best here. After a bright start as the visitors paid heed to Leonardo Jardim's exhortations to be aggressive from the first whistle, Juventus were well on top. Monaco did at least have the satisfaction of ending Juve's long run without conceding, racking up 150 goals in all competitions this term in the process. ASM should be proud of their thrilling journey to the semi-finals and can now focus on wrapping up their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years.