Higuain leaves Monaco with work to do
Gonzalo Higuain scored both goals as AS Monaco were beaten 2-0 by Juventus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Wednesday, 3 May, 2017
UEFA Champions League - Semi-final - first leg
Stade Louis II
No French club had come out on top against Juventus in a knockout game in 11 previous ties, and the visitors to the Stade Louis II started as if they meant to ensure that run would continue.
The bianconeri tested Danijel Subasic through Dani Alves (10') before Monaco's vaunted firepower swung into gear. Nabil Dirar, playing at full-back, darted down the right and crossed to the near post where Kylian Mbappé volleyed goalwards — Gianluigi Buffon blocked smartly (13').
The 18-year-old's devastating acceleration took him in front of Leonardo Bonucci to reach another Dirar cross first to test Buffon once more (16') before the Juve veteran turned a Radamel Falcao header around a post (19') after the Monaco captain had dominated Andrea Barzagli in the air.
Thanks to their legendary goalkeeper, the visitors weathered the storm and then struck with a lightning counter-attack. Buffon was at the start of the move, Alves at the heart and Higuain at the end with a crisp low shot into the bottom corner that left Subasic helpless (29').
The Croatia international stopped a Paulo Dybala shot (38') before Falcao, moving onto a Bernardo Silva ball, must have felt he would equalise — the Colombia international, however, could not get the ball out of his feet enough to muster a powerful finish (47').
Buffon thwarted both Mbappé (50') and Bernardo (51') before Claudio Marchisio moved forward and would have added a second but for the outstretched boot of Subasic (55').
Instead, four minutes later, Higuain did capitalise when Tiémoué Bakayoko lost possession, finding the net after Dybala and Alves had set the hosts rocking with some high-quality approach play (59').
Their job done, Massimiliano Allegri's team contented themselves with keeping Monaco at arm's length — substitute Valère Germain might have pulled one back with a powerful header in added time, but again Buffon stood firm (90').
THE PLAYER: Gonzalo Higuain
His goals made all the difference in a game where Monaco missed their chances, Higuain took his.
THE STAT: 4
Higuain had scored just four goals in 24 knockout games in European competition before going to the Stade Louis II.