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Monday 22 May 2017

Higuain the hero as Juve hold final aces

Monaco 0 Juventus 2

Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates in last night’s Champions League semi-final first leg win over Monaco at the Stade Louis II
Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates in last night’s Champions League semi-final first leg win over Monaco at the Stade Louis II

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice from Dani Alves passes to put Juventus in control of their Champions League semi-final with Monaco ahead of next week's second leg in Turin.

The €90million summer signing from Napoli has been prolific as Juve pursue a sixth straight Italian title, but goals had seemed harder to come by on the continent - until last night.

First, Higuain capped a remarkable team goal led by Alves to fire Juve ahead at the Stade Louis II, with his more regulation second extending the Italians' European advantage and settling a 2-0 victory.

And after successfully negating the goalscoring potency of would-be French champions Monaco, Massimiliano Allegri's Serie A table-toppers look likely to book a June showdown in Cardiff with Real Madrid, who lead their city rivals Atletico 3-0.

Minutes after Higuain had appeared to signal he was destined for an off-night when falling over as Paulo Dybala slid the ball across the pitch, Mbappe chose to enter the spotlight. The 18-year-old, reportedly the subject of a big-money approach from Manchester United, dragged the well-drilled Juve defence out of line to smash a hard volley against Gianluigi Buffon's fists.

Another old head then came sniffing, with Buffon scampering to deal with Radamel Falcao's looping header from a Dirar cross.

However, on 29 minutes a sensational team move began with Buffon calmly pushing the ball out to Barzagli, and two touches later Dybala was eliciting gasps with a deft backheel inside for Alves.

The former Barcelona flyer stormed through the Monaco midfield before playing a one-two with Higuain. He received the Argentinian's return pass just inside the box and, holding off Kamil Glik, he too backheeled the ball across the penalty area for Higuain to steer into the bottom corner.

Monaco's young team, knowing they would now face an incredibly daunting evening in Turin, regrouped over the break and returned to the pitch in a belligerent mood.

But just before the hour Juve again followed through on their menaces.

Again Alves was the provider, the Brazilian lofting a ball forward after Tiemoue Bakayoko lost possession under pressure from Dybala. Higuain got there first, his outstretched toe making it 2-0.

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