Vidal strikes as Juve labour past Monaco

Chile international Arturo Vidal struck a second-half penalty as Juventus laboured to a 1-0 win over a stubborn Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Turin on Tuesday.

Vidal strikes as Juve labour past Monaco
Juventus' midfielder Arturo Vidal celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Champions League quarter final match against Monaco. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Juventus had spurned several chances in the opening half when Monaco, who stunned Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates on their way to the last eight, also came close, only for Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco to shoot straight at Gianluigi Buffon.

The Turin giants, however, were given a break by Czech referee Pavel Kralovec, who pointed to the spot just before the hour when Alvaro Morata, under pressure from Ricardo Carvalho, slumped to the ground on the edge of the area.

Monaco's protests that the foul was outside the area went unheard and Vidal, who had blazed over twice in the opening half, calmed nerves by firing past Danijel Subasic and into the top corner.

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim was furious with the result.

"We wanted to leave with a totally different result and we will have to play a totally different game if we're to go through to the semis," he said.

"But the result was down to a penalty that didn't exist. I'm disappointed. We played a good game, we've got to the quarters and I don't think the score truly reflects what truly happened in the match."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, claimed the one-goal cushion may not be sufficient to secure passage into the semis: "It was a good result for us, we didn't concede a goal so we've got a small advantage. But it won't be easy in Monaco."

Pirlo back

Juventus welcomed back Andrea Pirlo after several weeks of absence due to injury, while Buffon and Carlos Tevez returned to the starting line up after missing the shock 1-0 defeat to Parma at the weekend.

Allegri opted for the 4-3-1-2 formation that saw the Italian champions sweep Borussia Dortmund aside 5-1 on aggregate to book their quarter-final place.

However, that caused problems, as well as chances, for the hosts who went in for the half-time break with little reward for their efforts.

Spanish striker Morata fired a volley over from Pirlo's delightful chip in the opening minutes while Tevez forced Subasic to block a low 25-yard drive.

But Monaco quickly demonstrated their potency on the counter, the pace of Ferreira-Carrasco in particular causing problems for Swiss right-back Stephan Lichsteiner.

When Layvin Kurzawa found space out wide, the left-back fired his effort over. Juve survived a bigger scare when Ferreira-Carrasco was set up inside the area only to fire straight at Buffon.

Those chances sparked Juve into life, but Monaco, who had conceded only four times in their past eight Champions League games, packed their defence tightly.

Tevez escaped to the back post but, while unmarked, shot straight at Subasic from Claudio Marchisio's pinpoint delivery, while Tunisian defender Aymen Abdennour produced a timely block on Lichsteiner's cross aimed at Morata, who was lurking at the far post.

Monaco had claims for a penalty waved away after teenage striker Antony Martial tumbled to the ground under pressure from Giorgio Chiellini as he muscled his way into the area.

Juve finished the half on a high, but in frustration, after Tevez shot straight at Subasic while unmarked at back post from Marchisio's chip, before Vidal ballooned over after running onto a ball delivered by the outside of Tevez's boot.

Monaco began brightly after the restart but Buffon reacted quickly to substitute Bernardo Silva's near-post drive, although it looked slightly off target.

Juve finally broke the deadlock just before the hour, Vidal stepping up to smash the ball past Subasic and send a packed-out Juventus Stadium into raptures.

Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia saw his long-distance drive tipped over by Buffon minutes later and with 20 minutes remaining Monaco coach Leonardo

Jardim reshuffled his side, replacing Italian defender Andrea Raggi with striker Dimitar Berbatov.

While the Bulgarian had an almost immediate impact, heading over from a corner, Monaco failed to grab the away-goal equaliser that would have given them a huge boost ahead of the April 22nd return leg.

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Five reasons why Juventus have won their eighth straight Serie A title

Italian giants Juventus claimed an eighth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday after a 2-1 win at home against Fiorentina.Here are five factors that helped the Turin giants lift a 35th Scudetto with five matches to spare, equalling the record for the earliest any team has won Serie A:

Five reasons why Juventus have won their eighth straight Serie A title
Photos: AFP

Ronaldo effect

Cristiano Ronaldo was signed from Real Madrid for 100 million euros ($112 million) before the start of the season, in a bid to end the Turin giants' 23-year wait for the Champions League trophy.

The 34-year-old left Real as their all-time top scorer, a record he also holds in the Champions League where he is the only player to have won five titles.

Despite their European exit to Ajax, the Portuguese superstar was a key player throughout the campaign with 19 league goals.

Both Juventus' Serie A defeats came in his absence — 2-0 to Genoa on March 17 and 2-1 to SPAL on April 13 — the latter frustrating their bid to wrap up the title with a record six games to spare.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was defended by Juve last year after being accused of rape, was slow off the mark, having to wait until their fourth game against Sassuolo before scoring a double in a 2-1 win.

“Cristiano is the future of Juventus, he has had an extraordinary season,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri after the Champions League loss.

Rising star Kean

Teenage sensation Moise Kean burst through during Ronaldo's absence through injury, scoring six goals in the last seven matches for Juventus, having played just nine this season.

The 19-year-old, who provides an alternative to Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala up front, admitted: “I learn from Cristiano Ronaldo in training, I steal his secrets.”

Born in Italy to Ivorian parents, his first league appearance this season was just four minutes away against Fiorentina on December 1, with his first goals a double in a 4-1 win over Udinese on March 3.

Controversy overshadowed his only full match for the champions when he was subjected to racist abuse against Cagliari on April 2.

The youngster hit back by scoring in Sardinia and again in the following game against SPAL.

Bonucci back

Leonardo Bonucci returned to Turin after an unhappy season at AC Milan to recreate the so-called 'BBC' defensive partnership alongside veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.

The absence of the trio through injury was felt when Juventus conceded six goals in two games including a 3-3 draw with Parma on February 2 — days after being eliminated from the Coppa Italia.

“Mr Bonucci and Mr Chiellini could teach lessons at Harvard University about how to be a central defender,” said Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho.

Juventus have conceded only 23 goals in 33 games, the best record in the division.

Safe hands

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has proven to be a worthy successor to Juventus and Italy icon Gianluigi Buffon, who left for Paris Saint-Germain.

The ex-Arsenal player arrived in Turin in 2017 after falling down the pecking order at the Premier league club.

The 28-year-old got off to a stuttering start in the season opener, conceding two goals in a 3-2 win at Chievo, but has conceded only 15 goals in the 24 times he has played so far this season.

New arrival Mattia Perin, who joined from Genoa last summer, has proved less effective with eight conceded in nine games, and was between the posts for both their league defeats.

Winning ugly

Massimiliano Allegri doesn't mind winning ugly as he claimed his fifth league title in as many years with Juventus, and sixth in Serie A after leading AC Milan to their last title in 2011.

Allegri — who has now won 11 trophies with Juventus — has strenuously defended his team's often-criticised style of play, despite Juve leading the way in the Italian top flight with 67 goals scored.

“Beautiful football doesn't pay off, at the end of the day you've got to just kick it away from your goal,” the 51-year-old fumed after the draw with Parma.

“They need to realise there is no shame in hoofing the ball into the stands if needs be.”