Higuain’s brace hand Juventus a crucial 2-0 lead over AS Monaco
Gonzalo Higuain gave Juventus a commanding 2-0 advantage in their Champions League semi-final tie against Ligue 1 leaders AS Monaco.
Higuain came into the match with an awful record of netting only twice in his last 24 UCL knock out games, but he silenced his critics – who labelled him as a player who doesn’t perform in big match by scoring the same amount in a single match at Stade Louis II.
Monaco who had scored 12 goals in the knockout stages this season, failed to find the back of the net against Juventus – who have now concededjust twice in 11 Champions League game this season. Juventus are now strong favorites to reach their second final in the years.
The two teams will meet again in the second leg in Turin on Tuesday.There was only one question on everybody’s lips when the two sides met on Wednesday :- Can Monaco do what the “Best Trio in the World” couldn’t ?
Monaco made some tactical changes in their squad. Jemerson and Glik were assigned with the duty of playing as centre-back. Lemnar and Dirar were deployed on the flanks and B. Silva was offered a more attacking role. Falcao and Mbappe started on top. As Mandy wasn’t available so Sidibe started as left-back and Fabinho was deployed on the right side.
Allegri was also forced to make some changes in his squad. Juventus started with a three-man central defence – a surprise. Allegri had opted for 3-4-1-2 formation for the tie against Monaco. The three man central defence consisted of Chiellini, Barzagali and Bonucci. Dani Alves and Alex Sandro were deployed as wing backs. Marchisio and Pjanic were there in the midfield and Dyabla, Higuain and Mandzukic were playing on top. Juan Cuadrado wasn’t included in the starting lineup and Khedira was suspended for this tie.
It was all Juventus in the opening 10-12 minutes but Monaco responded nicely to cool down the things and had two chances to trouble Juve’s backline.
Mbappe sent a free header straight at Gigi Buffon in the opening minutes. Buffon had to beat away a close-range volley from the teenager too in the 17th minute. Falcao and Glik tried to head home but it was of no use.
Monaco’s goalkeeper Subasic continued to be the busier goalkeeper, with both the sides trading half chances. Bonucci got the first yellow card of the game in the 21st minute when he was penalised for a tackle that came through the back of Falcao.
As mentioned above, both the sides were trading half chances and none of them were willing to take risk of conceding a goal. But Juventus managed to find the back of the net through Higuain in the 29th minute via a very clever move from Alves and a great first time response from Higuain. Alves and Higuain linked up brilliantly, before Alves cut back a beautiful ball to the edge of the penalty area. Higuain picked his spot before thumping a first-time finish across Subasic.
That goal took away the momentum from Monaco and all the momentum flew to the visitors. Prior to the interval, Subasic produced an excellent save to keep Dybala’s free-kick at bay.
Monaco had a great chance to equalise in the opening minutes of the second half when Falcao failed to beat Buffon after Silva had impressively set him up.
Monaco controlled the game for the opening 10 minutes of the second half and pressed Juventus brilliantly. Juventus wasted an excellent chance to double their lead when Marchisio’s shot was denied by Subasic’s legs.
Marchisio was given a yellow in the 58th minute for bringing down Fabinho. Juventus did double their lead when Higuain striked in the 59th minute. It all started when Bakayoko gave up possession under pressure from Dyabala and Alves and Dyabla passed it to Alves. The Brazilian right back chipped the Ball into Higuain’s path, with the latter sliding in to tap the ball home.
Leonardo Jardim introduced two fresh pair of legs in the 67th minute. First, Bokayoko was replaced by Moutinho and then Germain replaced Lemar to provide more attacking options to Monaco.
Chiellini was handed a Yellow Card in the 69th minute for his antics with Falcao. Allegri decided to withdraw Higuain and introduced Cuadrado to control the midfield and possession. He also introduced Rincon and Lemina in the dying minutes in place of Marchisio and Pjanic.
Buffon had to produce an excellent save in the first minute of the added time to keep the scoreline at 2-0. Germain was picked out by a good free-kick delivery from the right flank, but the substitute was denied by the the Italian international. Buffon got up well to push the ball over the crossbar with a strong hand. The resulting corner was angled towards Glik, but a deflection took the ball into the arms of Buffon once again.
Juventus now head back to Turin with a massive 2-0 lead over AS Monaco – given to them by Higuain, who was fairly poor aside from his finishes.