A resilient display in Monte Carlo saw Juventus reclaim their place among Europe’s top four for the first time since 2003, with Monaco edged out 1-0 on aggregate following two combative legs of Champions League football.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men were forced to draw on all their character and vigour to resist the hosts’ attempts to overturn an advantage established last week through Arturo Vidal’s penalty.
But aside from a few alarms that sounded as Monaco turned the screw in the second half, Juventus were able to pass a stern test of their defensive mettle with flying colours, preserving a precious clean sheet that was enough to see them safely through to the competition’s final four.
In need of a goal to get back into the tie following last week’s 1-0 reverse at Juventus Stadium, the hosts started the more positive of the two sides, firing their first warning shot after just five minutes through a dipping Geoffrey Kondogbia effort that flashed over the bar.
Strong in possession and speedy in attack, Monaco continued to dominate the opening proceedings and the Bianconeri had Andrea Barzagli to thank for a timely piece of defensive work after a neat give and go provided Bernado Silva with the opportunity to cut back menacingly from the byline.
The majority of the first half was characterised by a strongly contested battle in the centre of the park. Indeed, Leonardo Jardim’s men may have shaded Juventus on chances created and overall possession, but Buffon was given little food for thought during the opening 45 minutes.
A first-half glimmer of light for the Bianconeri arrived in the dying stages when Alvaro Morata turned his man and sent Carlos Tevez racing towards the box, only for the Argentine’s subsequent right-footed strike to finish the wrong side of the upright.
Monaco picked up where they left off from the first half, dominating possession and looking to cause danger in offensive areas, but now favoured a more direct approach offered by the imposing figure of substitute Dimitar Berbatov, a half-time replacement for Jeremy Toulalan.
With the home supporters raising the volume several notches, Jardim’s men continued to attack and the Bianconeri needed Patrice Evra, Buffon and Barzagli on red alert to weather three particular storms that brewed in the penalty area.
Little over 20 minutes remained when Allegri opted to make his first change of the game, introducing Fernando Llorente to the action in place of Morata. The Pamplona-born forward was soon joined by Roberto Pereyra, who replaced Vidal.
As the clock ticked down towards the final whistle, Juventus were able to slow the pace of the game down and subsequently take the sting out of any late thrust offered by the hosts.
A late Andrea Pirlo free-kick, which clipped off the stanchion, could have put the final outcome beyond any doubt but that long awaited moment of joy came just four minutes later when William Collum’s final whistle shrilled.
Juventus will discover the next stop of this season’s Champions League journey when the draw is made on Friday afternoon, with one of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid lying in wait to pit their wits against the reigning champions of Italy.