SHOW HOW IT’S DONE
Higuain and Buffon star at each end as Juventus give Monaco masterclass
Champions League semi-final.
Higuain scored a goal in each half on Wednesday, doubling his tally from 24 previous matches in the knockout stages.
“Goals were not coming for me in this competition,” said Higuain, who cost Juventus €90 million (RM441 million) when he joined from Napoli.
“I knew I just had to stay calm and keep working hard.”
He did, relentlessly, at both ends of the pitch. Moments before his second goal, he was near his own penalty area, harrying and hassling Monaco’s attack.
“When you want to win big games, you have to make sacrifices and track back,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, complimenting his star striker.
He had a special praise, too, for the 39-year-old Buffon on the goalkeeper’s 100th Champions League appearance for the club.
Buffon made two early saves from Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe with the score 0-0, thwarted top scorer Radamel Falcao with a fine stop just after the break and denied Monaco a lifeline with a stunning finger-tip save over the bar from substitute Valere Germain’s close-range header in the last minute.
Juventus gave a masterclass in how to withstand pressure and then punish on the counter attack, with both of Higuain’s goals coming after good Monaco spells.
Higuain pounced in the 29th minute, side-footing home after Dani Alves had latched onto his pass down the right before backheeling the ball back to the Argentina striker as he sprinted into the area.
The Juventus bench rose as one after Higuain slid in to turn home a deep cross in the 59th, with Alves again the provider.
The winners play either Real Madrid or city rivals Atletico, with Real heading into the return leg at Atletico with a 3-0 cushion thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick on Tuesday.
Monaco’s vaunted attack was blunted by a solid Juventus defence that has now conceded only two goals in 11 Champions League games.
The sheer speed of Juventus’ approach play took Monaco by surprise, prompting coach Leonardo Jardim to frantically gesticulate to his players early to close down their opponents higher up the pitch.
Forward Paulo Dybala’s ability to roam between the lines baffled Monaco, opening up space for Alves on the right wing.
The first goal came just moments after Glik went down holding his face, urging his teammates to kick the ball out despite a promising attack building down the left. It took the momentum away for Monaco.
Monaco attacked relentlessly after the break, with Buffon diving at the feet of Mbappe minutes after his save from Falcao.
“In every game I want to show that I deserve to play at this level, despite my age,” Buffon said.
“The day I quit, I want people to be sad about it.” AP
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tips over a shot at goal during their Champions League semifinal match against Monaco on Wednesday. Juventus won 2-0.