Juventus 2-1 AS Monaco (Agg.4-1)
Juventus secured their place in the Champions League final with their 2-1 win over Monaco in Turin tonight.
First-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Dani Alves ended the tie as a contest before the break to ensure Massimiliano Allegri’s side will contest the final in Cardiff next month.
Alves’s stunning volley, in particular, emphasised the superiority of the Italian side amid an electric atmosphere at Juventus Stadium.
And while Kylian Mbappe did bolster his growing reputation with a second-half goal from close range it was nowhere near enough to get the Ligue 1 team through.
Boasting a two-goal lead from the away leg, the Serie A champions-elect were, of course, warm favourites to reach a ninth European Cup final going into the second leg.
But Monaco’s young team have won plenty of admirers during their run to the last four and showed signs of their undoubted talent on the night, particularly early on.
Mbappe won a corner inside the first minute from which Gianluigi Buffon, making his 150th European appearance, seemed to foul Radamel Falcao.
The highly-rated teenager then hit the post before the five-minute mark only to see the offside flag go up as Monaco threatened to get right back into the tie.
When Juventus were forced into an early change, midfielder Sami Khedira departing with a hamstring injury, the home side could certainly have been forgiven for being unsettled.
Instead, they quickly asserted themselves and Gonzalo Higuain, the two-goal hero of the first leg, should have put them ahead midway through the first half only to get his chip all wrong.
Monaco were cut apart far too easily with Danijel Subasic denying Mandzukic and Andrea Raggi blocking a shot from Miralem Pjanic as Juve piled on the pressure.
The need for goals left Monaco vulnerable and the visitors were punished just after the half-hour mark when Mandzukic converted Alves’s right-wing cross at the second attempt.
It was a virtuoso display from Alves and the 34-year-old Brazilian set up further opportunities for Higuain and Paulo Dybala before his magic moment just before half time.
Subasic appeared to have punched the ball to safety from a left-wing corner but Alves struck the ball fiercely on the volley from outside the box to double the lead on the night.
The goal ended any hope of a comeback and while Monaco did cause Juve to concede in the knockout stages for the first time this season, Allegri’s experienced defence saw it out.
It’s this blend of defensive nous and attacking potency that means the Old Lady will go to Cardiff in expectation as well as hope of a first Champions League triumph since 1996.