09.05.2017 23:07 - in: Match report S

      Into the Champions League final!

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      Goals from Dani Alves and Mario Mandzukic set up a 2-1 victory over Monaco at Juventus Stadium to book the Bianconeri’s place in the Champions League final

      Juventus secured their place in their second Champions League final in three seasons on Tuesday night as goals from Mario Mandzukic and Dani Alves – a spectacular swerving volley from distance – completed the job they had begun in Monte Carlo six days ago.

      In a game bookended by spells of Monaco pressure, a thrilling quarter of an hour at the end of the first half was enough for the Bianconeri to reinforce their dominance over the two ties, producing a stunning quarter of an hour before the break to all but eliminate the visitors before half-time.

      Fittingly it was Alves to put the result beyond doubt, the Brazilian’s superb goal matching his two game-winning assists in Monte Carlo for quality and importance.

      As it was, the first 10 minutes at Juventus Stadium served to demonstrate that the Bianconeri would indeed need to score again if they were to guarantee their place in June’s showpiece event in Wales as Monaco’s Kylian Mbappé rolled a shot against the base of the post before Radamel Falcao flashed over the bar from distance.

      The premature withdrawal of Sami Khedira for Claudio Marchisio threatened to disrupt Juve’s early rhythm further but instead Massimiliano Allegri’s men gradually grew into the occasion, holding their lively visitors at arm’s length while getting a grip of possession in central areas.

      It wasn’t long before the first signs of nerves began to show in the Monaco ranks. First, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain combined to capitalise on a moment’s uncertainty in defence, the latter racing through to see his attempted chip hacked off the line by the covering Kamil Glik.

      Then the Argentine turned provider moments later, delicately threading a ball into the box for Mandzukic whose low shot was expertly pushed clear by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

      Back came Juve again: crisp combination play by Dybala and Higuain releasing Miralem Pjanic only for the Bosnian’s cross-cum-shot to be diverted away on the slide by Glik.

      With the red and white door ajar, it took the power and perseverance of Mandzukic to blast it off its hinges and light the touch paper at an already electric Juventus Stadium. Dani Alves’ perfect right-wing cross – his third assist of the tie – found the Croatian at the back post to ram home on the rebound after his initial header had been saved.

      Chances were exchanged at both ends – Higuain arrowing across Subasic and Giorgio Chiellini heroically denying Falcao a tap-in at the back post – before the interval but the half’s most extraordinary action would be saved moments from its end.

      Monaco’s Subasic – superb throughout the opening 45 minutes - probably thought he had successfully averted the last Juventus attack before the break as he punched away Dybala’s awkward cross but Dani Alves had other ideas.

      Lying in wait on the right edge of the box, the Brazilian unleashed an unstoppable volley with the outside of his boot, cutting across the ball to guide it emphatically into the unguarded net.

      As expected, despite an early continuation of Juve dominance, an improved Monaco emerged for the second period. Braving a storm in which Juan Cuadrado – a substitute for Dybala – ought to have scored only to strike against the recovering Sidibé, the away side edged their way back into contention as the game passed the hour mark.

      Their perserverance paid dividends on 69 minutes, Mbappé converting a simple tap-in from Joao Moutinho’s cut-back.

      The Monegasque’s revival however was short-lived, rarely threatening Buffon’s goal despite forcing the home side to defend deep and in numbers as a thrilling 180 minutes of football drew to a close.

      This Juventus side has become accustomed to managing the key moments this season and Allegri’s men demonstrated their big-game acumen yet again in the closing stages here, hurdling Monaco’s second-half resistance with composure and calm.

      Pack your bags everyone, we’re going to Cardiff.

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