Dani Alves scored one and made another, adding to his two first-leg assists, as Juventus beat Monaco 2-1 in Turin to complete a 4-1 semi-final aggregate victory and secure their place in next month’s Champions League final.
The Italian champions began the second leg as strong favourites to progress after Alves had twice teed up Gonzalo Higuain to score eight days previously as Juventus left Monte Carlo with a 2-0 lead.
And the Brazilian defender turned in another man-of-the-match performance, first setting up Mario Mandzukic to score before volleying in a stunning goal of his own as Juventus opened up a commanding 4-0 aggregate lead. Kylian Mbappe’s late strike proved only a consolation for the French league leaders.
“I don’t score often so every goal is special,final-whistle” said three-time Champions League winner Alves.
“I’m happy about this one because it helped the team get the win and reach the final of such a special competition.”
Monaco, knowing they faced an uphill task to overturn the first-leg deficit in order to reach the final, started brightly, with teenager Mbappe hitting the post after only five minutes, only to see the offside flag raised.
Juventus regained control and Higuain and Mandzukic had good chances to open the scoring before the ‘Bianconeri’ put the tie beyond doubt in the 33rd minute.
Alves picked out Mandzukic with a right-wing cross, and although the Croat saw his header saved by compatriot Danijel Subasic in the Monaco goal, he pounced quickly to dispatch the rebound from close-range.
“We haven’t won anything yet. we have to bring the trophy home” – dani alves
The game’s outstanding moment was supplied by the tie’s outstanding performer in the 44th minute as former Barcelona man Alves volleyed home from 20-yards through a ruck of bodies after Subasic had punched Miralem Pjanic’s corner clear to the edge of the area.
The tie was beyond Monaco but there was still time for striker Mbappe to boost his growing reputation as he nabbed his sixth goal in this season’s competition with a close-range finish in the 69th minute. It was the first goal Juventus had conceded in the knockout phase.
Juventus will face Real Madrid in June’s showpiece at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium after the 11-time winners survived a scare to see of city rivals Atletico Madrid in the other semi-final.
Leading 3-0 from the first leg, Real quickly saw their advantage reduced as Saul Niguez’s header and Antoine Griezmann’s penalty had Atletico within touching distance inside 16 minutes.
But on the stroke of half-time Real striker Karim Benzema wriggled clear of the Atletico defence, leading to Isco scoring from inside the six-yard box. It was a priceless away goal that meant Atletico had to score a further three times without reply, and the game fizzled out as ‘Los Blancos’ booked their place in a third final in four years.
“We are very happy to reach the final again,” said Real Madrid Head Coach Zinedine Zidane.
“We knew they would come out strong. We had difficulties in the beginning but we knew we were going to have chances.”
2016 winners Real are now just one win away from becoming the first team to win Europe’s premier club competition back-to-back since AC Milan accomplished the feat in 1990, and the first club to retain the trophy in the Champions League format. Juventus, beaten finalists in 2003 and 2015, are looking to add their name to the trophy for the first time since 1996.
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)