04 May, 06:30
Juventus have one foot in the Champions League final. It would take an astonishing second-leg turnaround, even allowing for the gifts of this Monaco side, to deny them after a 2-0 victory earned through a superb goal in each half from Gonzalo Higuain.
The first half will be replayed for weeks; the second might well have decided the tie and, in the end, Juventus deserved nothing less. The key for Massimiliano Allegri's side was depriving Monaco of the kind of momentum that has blown other opponents away. They took the sting out of the opening 10 minutes and had the first half-chance when Dani Alves, connecting at the back post, volleyed just over the head of an unmarked Mario Mandzukic.
Higuain's first goal was sublime. The striker sent Alves scampering away down the inside-right channel before, in a stunning piece of synchronicity, arriving at the perfect time to side-foot the Brazilian's astute back-heel past Danijel Subasic.
Juve's second goal arrived just before the hour when the outstanding Alves robbed a dithering Tiemoue Bakayoko, received a pass from Paulo Dybala and crossed perfectly for the onrushing Higuain at the far post. The finish was again clinical. Juventus' celebrations allowed no doubt about the goal's importance, and Monaco, for all their endeavor, had no answer in the remaining 31 minutes.
Monaco’s moments of brilliance
Two excellent openings fell to Kylian Mbappe as they settled into the game: the 18-year-old headed straight at Gianluigi Buffon when he should have done far better. Then, in the 16th minute, he got in front of his marker sharply to direct a fizzing Nabil Dirar cross toward goal. This time, Buffon's save down at his near post was superb.
Buffon was busy. Radamel Falcao was next to threaten, looping a header that the keeper had to claw away. Juventus were under real pressure but they responded emphatically.
The two sides meet again for the second leg on May 9th.