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Juventus optimistic after strolling into Champions League final

A stunning Dani Alves volley helped Juventus stroll into their second Champions League final in three years on Tuesday, a 2-1 win on the night completing a 4-1 aggregate victory over outclassed Monaco.

Juventus optimistic after strolling into Champions League final
Juventus' forward from Croatia Mario Mandzukic (L) celebrates with teammates. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Brazilian wing-back Alves's 25-yard strike followed Mario Mandzukic's opener for the treble-chasing Italian champions as any semblance of a contest was snuffed out by half-time.

Teenage star Kylian Mbappe pulled a goal back for the principality club after the break, his sixth of the competition.

But there was never any realistic prospect of them threatening to overturn a 2-0 deficit from last week's first leg.

It will be the ninth time Juventus, runners-up to Barcelona in 2015, have contested the final of Europe's elite club competition.

And on this evidence, Massimiliano Allegri's sinewy, battle-hardened squad stand a good chance of adding to the club's meagre return of two triumphs when they meet either Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid in Cardiff on June 3rd.

“I think we have a good chance of winning the trophy,” Allegri said. “We have all grown since 2015, including myself, and getting to the final is no easy thing. The Champions is a serious competition.

“Now we are in the crucial phase of the season because we have not won anything yet. In order we have the championship, the Italian Cup and the Champions: there is no time for slacking, we have to take care of the details and we have a month to get ready for Cardiff.”

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim batted off suggestions that Tuesday might have been the last big night for his talented young squad before its brightest stars are lured away.

“I am going to stay and I think all the players are going to stay. In three years time this squad will be 25, 30 percent better.”

Jardim said he expected Juve to be facing Real in Cardiff and said the Italians would be anything but underdogs.

“This Juve is stronger than it was in 2015. There are many of the same players but with more experience of this level.

“The final is two teams with many quality players and experience of matches like that – it could go either way. I don't think there are any favourites.”

Allegri made only one change from last week's first leg line-up but was soon forced to restore it as Germany midfielder Sami Khedira, returning from suspension, lasted only ten minutes before limping off to make way for Claudio Marchisio.

For Monaco, the loss of Nabil Dirar to injury in the warm-up meant a hasty return for Benjamin Mendy as coach Leonardo Jardim opted to match Juve's 3-5-2 set-up.

The results were initially encouraging and Mbappe squeezed a fifth-minute shot past Gianluigi Buffon from a tight angle and held his head in his hands as it came back off the inside of the post, although the offside flag had come up.

Subasic kept busy

The home supporters had to wait quarter of an hour to see their side emerge meaningfully from their own half.

But they were soon being treated to some slick entertainment that at times left the visitors looking like spectators.

Paulo Dybala made amends for slicing Gonzalo Higuain's knockdown wide from the edge of the area by deftly playing his fellow Argentinian into a one-on-one with Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

It was the kind of chance the striker usually gobbles up but this one was fluffed with a semi-shanked attempt to dink the ball over the goalkeeper.

Mandzukic had a similar chance but saw his toe-poked effort saved by Subasic before Andrea Raggi's last-ditch block denied Dybala.

But a goal was coming and it duly arrived 12 minutes before the break after a move that began with a Buffon throw out.

Dybala supplied Alves on the right and his deep cross picked out Mandzukic advancing on the back post. Again Subasic saved at close range but the rebound fell kindly for the Croatian striker to thump the loose ball into the roof of the net.

The deflated body language of Monaco's young side told its own story and any doubt about the outcome disappeared a minute before the interval.

Subasic did well again to keep out Dybala's effort with another close-range stop and he got a firm fist to the resulting corner.

But the clearance fell invitingly for Alves 25 yards out and the Brazilian's volley was timed sweetly enough to beat the Monaco goalkeeper to his left by sheer pace.

Comprehensively outplayed, Monaco restored a bit of pride when Mbappe pulled a goal back midway through the second period.

Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho was the architect, working his way into the left side of the box. His cross was clipped low from the byline and Mbappe showed quick feet to bundle it over the line in a manner reminiscent of a young Thierry Henry, also once a Monaco prodigy.

By Angus MacKinnon

READ ALSO: Find the latest sport news from Italy hereFor the first time, a woman will coach an Italian national football teamPhoto: Vince Bucci/AFP

 

 

 

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SPORT

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP
  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano 
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