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Friday 30 September 2016

Vidal gets the vital strike to give Juve the advantage

Juventus' Arturo Vidal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League, quarterfinal, first leg soccer match between Juventus and Monaco
Juventus' Arturo Vidal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League, quarterfinal, first leg soccer match between Juventus and Monaco

Juventus are well-placed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2003 after Arturo Vidal's penalty sealed a 1-0 first-leg victory over Monaco in Turin.

The Bianconeri last featured in the final four of the competition 12 years ago, beating Real Madrid to book a Manchester showdown with AC Milan which they lost after 120 goalless minutes and a penalty shootout.

Vidal provided a timely fillip from the spot this time around, however, converting in the 57th minute following a clumsy challenge from Monaco defender Ricardo Carvalho.

The Serie A leaders travel to the principality next week having avoided shipping an away goal, despite the best efforts of Geoffrey Kondogbia towards the end of a one-sided evening at the Juventus Stadium.

While Monaco's run to the quarter-finals has been built on solid defending and blistering pace on the counter-attack, Juve owe their Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez a debt of gratitude.

Having scored three goals across the two last-16 meetings with Borussia Dortmund, Tevez looked keen to continue his exploits and twice went close to scoring in the opening minutes.

Aymen Abdennour blocked his first effort and Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic did brilliantly to smother his follow-up attempt from the edge of the area.

The visitors bit back through Yannick Carrasco, who got Gianluigi Buffon with a devious shot from close range.

Monaco kept Juve at arm's length for much of the half but the Bianconeri did break through on occasion, Tevez going close to turning Claudio Marchisio's cross home only to find Subasic's arms in the 26th minute.

Roberto Pereyra delivered a ball inside for Patrice Evra five minutes before the break - the Frenchman blasted over the bar - and, in stoppage time, Vidal just missed the mark from a clever Tevez assist.

Monaco were first to threaten in the second half, Bernardo breaking into the box at the end of a swift raid before forcing a save out of Buffon with his left boot.

In the 57th minute, however, Juve were gifted an opportunity to score.

When Ricardo Carvalho brought Alvaro Morata down in the area, Vidal stepped up to the mark and beat Subasic with a driven spot-kick.

Then, with Juve still celebrating, Kondogbia tried to surprise Buffon with a shot from distance but the veteran keeper flicked the ball out for a corner.

Sensing a backlash, Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri withdrew playmaker Andrea Pirlo for defender Andrea Barzagli, and Monaco's ability to retaliate steadily weakened.

Kondogbia did wriggle into the area as time ticked away, but the save was easy for Buffon and full-time soon ended the principality club's tame challenge.

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