14.04.2015 22:53 - in: UCL S

      Vidal spot on for Juve

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      Arturo Vidal converts a second-half penalty to earn Juventus a first-leg foothold in their Champions League quarter-final tie against Monaco.

      A second-half Arturo Vidal penalty gained the Bianconeri a Champions League quarter-final first leg advantage from this evening’s tie with Monaco at  Juventus Stadium.

      A lively encounter, played out in front of a wonderful atmosphere in Turin, saw both sides have their chances but Juventus prevail after Riccardo Carvalho’s foul on Alvaro Morata presented an opportunity to convert for Vidal, who thumped home from 12 yards just ahead of the hour mark.

      The introduction of Andrea Barzagli in place of the returning Andrea Pirlo helped the Bianconeri protect their lead in the face of increased Monaco pressure, meaning they will head to France next week with a useful lead.

      Looking to make the most of their boisterous home support, Juventus started with a spring in their step and almost gave their passionate faithful something to cheer about on eight minutes. Carlos Tevez it was who shimmied inside and unleashed a low drive, Danijel Subasic proving equal to it at his near post.

      But the pace of Monaco, particularly in wide areas, soon provided the hosts with a few points to ponder, forcing Gigi Buffon into action twice in the space of just one minute.

      First he pulled off a magnificent point-blank save to deny Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco after Anthony Martial had pulled back from the wing. Then, 60 seconds later, he tipped the Belgian’s 20-yard shot wide for a corner to deny the visitors that crucial away goal.

      After taking a while to gain the measure of their opponents, Juventus began to settle into their game and pose a few questions of their own. Tevez had a glorious chance to open the scoring on 26 minutes, but diverted Claudio Marchisio’s cross straight at Subasic after stealing in unmarked at the back post.

      An even better opportunity, though, fell into the path of Vidal right on the stroke of half-time, only for the Chilean to sidefoot over from a matter of yards following a pinpoint Tevez pass into the area.

      The start of the second half witnessed an elevation in the Bianconeri's play, but the threat of Monaco on the counter still remained. A lightning shift from back to front saw Bernardo Silva given the opportunity to travel towards goal, with Buffon alert at his near post to claw a rasping left-footed strike away for a corner.

      Back down the other end, Pirlo was continuing to cause problems with his full range of passing, and a delicately clipped through ball to Morata eventually proved the key that unlocked the door for the Bianconeri’s opener.

      Bearing down on goal, the Spaniard was felled by Riccardo Carvalho’s ill-timed challenge, resulting in Pavel Kralovec pointing to the spot. Up stepped Vidal and the Chilean made no mistake, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way with a perfectly placed penalty into the top corner on 57 minutes.

      Needing a reaction, Monaco began to show a little more adventure in their play and exhibited a flicker of their increased attacking intent when Geoffrey Kondogbia tested Buffon from range five minutes after the opener.

      The visitors pursued with their quest for an away goal as the game ticked into its final 20 minutes, throwing caution to the wind by introducing Dimitar Berbatov to the fold in place of right-back Andrea Raggi.

      An early chance for the Bulgarian should have seen him draw Leonardo Jardim’s men level on 72 minutes, but he glanced wide from a matter of yards after rising to meet a corner from the right-hand side.

      Operating an opposite strategy was Massimiliano Allegri, who sacrificed Pirlo for Barzagli in a move that saw the hosts batten down the hatches with a 3-5-2 system.

      This change in formation, combined with the late introductions of Alessandro Matri and Stefano Sturaro, proved to be the right way forward for the Bianconeri, who hung on to preserve an important advantage ahead of next Wednesday’s return tie in Monte Carlo.

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