MX23RW : Sunday, December 16 23:23:05
May 3, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​Stade Louis II
FT(HT: 0-1)
Higuain (29', 59')

Live Commentary: Monaco 0-2 Juventus - as it happened

Relive Juventus's 2-0 win over Monaco as a Gonzalo Higuain brace at the Stade Louis II puts the Old Lady on course to reach the Champions League final.

Juventus took a big step towards the final of the Champions League by beating AS Monaco 2-0 at the Stade Louis II in the first leg of their semi-final this evening.

Gonzalo Higuain finished off a brilliant team move to open the scoring in the first half before converting an inch-perfect Dani Alves cross shortly before the hour mark to double his side's advantage.

Monaco will now go into next week's second leg knowing that they need at least two goals to progress against a Juve side who have now kept six consecutive clean sheets in the competition.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

6.45pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg between AS Monaco and Juventus at the Stade Louis II! Real Madrid set the tone in the first semi-final with a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired 3-0 win over local rivals Atletico Madrid last night, but tonight's tie is arguably even more fascinating as the youthful and free-scoring Monaco take on the experienced and miserly defence of Juventus. It promises to be a momentous match-up between two of the best units in European football, but let's first have a look at the team news...

6.47pmJUVENTUS STARTING XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Pjanic, Marchisio; Dani Alves, Dybala, Mandzukic; Higuain

6.47pmJUVENTUS SUBS: Neto, Lichtsteiner, Benatia, Asamoah, Lemina, Rincon, Cuadrado

6.49pmWe will bring you the Monaco team news once they release it, but for now let's have a look at that Juventus starting XI. It is not the most star-studded side in the competition, but as a team there are few, if any, better. The experience, particularly in the defensive areas, makes them one of the fiercest teams to face, capable of even shutting out Barcelona's attack over two legs. Gianluigi Buffon, as ever, guards the goal tonight as he continues his search for the Champions League trophy - the one piece of silverware which has eluded him during his illustrious career.

6.51pmMONACO STARTING XI: Subasic; Dirar, Glik, Jemerson, Mendy; Fabinho, Bakayoko; Silva, Lemar; Falcao, Mbappé

6.53pmPerhaps the biggest star name in that Juventus side is Gonzalo Higuain, who leads the line again tonight, but the Argentine will be eager to show more at this stage of the competition having flattered to deceive when it really matters on too many occasions. He has scored only two goals in 24 Champions League knockout games throughout his career, compared to 13 in 38 group matches. When you compare that to the very best records, such as Ronaldo's of having scored more than half of his 103 Champions League goals in the knockout stages, there is an almighty gap.

6.55pmMassimiliano Allegri has made two changes to his side for this evening's match, one of which was enforced due to a suspension for Sami Khedira. The German drops out of the starting XI and is replaced by Claudio Marchisio, as expected, but the other switch is more of a shock as Cuadrado drops out to be replaced by Barzagli. The teamsheet named by Juventus suggests that they will not change formation, which means that Dani Alves would play effectively as a right winger, although it is perhaps more likely that Juve could adopt a 3-4-3 formation

6.57pmThe position of Alves is likely to tell us a lot about how worried Allegri is of this Monaco attack, with the Brazilian perhaps being selected as extra defensive cover down the wings should Juve stick with four at the back. It will certainly be another interested test for the battle-hardened duo of Bonucci and Chiellini at the back, while up front Dybala will be hoping to grab a crucial away goal having netted twice in the quarter-final win over Barcelona.

6.59pmMONACO SUBS: De Sanctis, Jorge, Raggi, Touré, Moutinho, Cardona, Germain

6.59pmAs for Monaco, the biggest team news as far as they are concerned is that Bakayoko starts despite suffering a broken nose during a training ground accident with Glik. The midfielder, who has been heavily tipped for a big-money summer move to the Premier League, will play wearing a protective mask today as he replaces veteran Joao Moutinho in the middle of the park. Fabinho, who missed the quarter-final second leg with Barcelona through injury, also starts alongside him.

7.01pmAll eyes will be on the Monaco attackers tonight, though, and for good reason too. Leonardo Jardim has built a thrilling young side, and in Kylian Mbappe they look like having a genuine superstar in the making. The youngster has scored a phenomenal 18 goals in his last 18 competitive appearances, including three over the two quarter-final legs against Borussia Dortmund, and it only looks like he will get better too. This is arguably the toughest test yet in his young career, but he could hardly go into it in much better form.

7.03pmMonaco are by no means a one-man team, though, and after a miserable spell in England, Radamel Falcao also appears to be back to his best this season. The clinical striker was one of the deadliest marksmen in world football before he suffered a serious injury and finally this season has begun to rebuilt that reputation. Should he score tonight then it will be a good omen for Monaco too - they have won all of the 13 home matches in which he has found the back of the net this term.

7.05pmThe return of Bakayoko in place of Moutinho is the only change made by manager Leonardo Jardim to the side that beat Toulouse at the weekend, with Monaco not in a position where they can rest players just yet. It is a young side which seems to be learning more and impressing more with each passing week, though, so even if he had the option, Jardim may not have wanted to leave any of his star men out. This tie promises to be the biggest learning experience of many of their careers to date too, so even defeat could have its benefits.

7.07pmIt is fair to say that Monaco are the most surprising of the four semi-finalists this season, although their form suggests that we should have seen it coming. Others have faced tougher routes to this stage of the competition, but few have been more impressive than Jardim's side and they have lit up the Champions League at various stages along the way. They will once again go into this tie as underdogs in the eyes of most, but there will also be plenty backing them to pull off another upset.

7.09pmMonaco are still fighting on two fronts this season, and it could have been more had Jardim not effectively sacrificed the Coupe de France by naming a weakened side in their semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain a week ago. Monaco were subsequently thrashed 5-0, having also been beaten by the capital outfit in the Coupe de la Ligue, but it is they who remain in the driving seat for the biggest domestic prize of the lot as they look to end PSG's Ligue 1 dominance.

7.11pmMonaco currently sit three points clear of the reigning champions, but crucially they have a game in hand too. PSG suffered a damaging 3-1 defeat at the hands of Nice - themselves not completely out of the running just yet - on Sunday which gave Monaco breathing room, and Jardim's side will know that a few more wins will be enough for their first league title since 2000. If they are to somehow couple that with their first ever European crown then it would undoubtedly be the greatest season in the club's history.

7.13pmIt is the way they have done it that has captured the imaginations of most, scoring 95 goals in their 34 Ligue 1 outings - a tally only Barcelona can beat in Europe's top five leagues. They have carried that goalscoring form into the Champions League too, becoming the first team in the competition's history to score three or more goals in four consecutive knockout matches - doing so in both legs against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, in all competitions Monaco have scored three or more goals on 26 different occasions already this term.

7.15pmNeedless to say, with an attack so potent they have amassed a fine winning record over the course of the season and come into this match off the back of seven wins in their last eight - the exception being that sacrificial cup defeat to PSG. Indeed, PSG are the only team to avoid defeat against Monaco in their last 15 outings, with both of those coming in cup competitions, while Jardim's side have won 22 and lost just three of their 27 outings so far this calendar year, scoring 68 goals in the process.

7.17pmMonaco have been even more impressive at home, where they are currently on a 13-match winning streak in all competitions which stretches all the way back to December 18, when they were beaten by Lyon. Throughout the season they have won 25 and lost just one of their 28 outings in front of their own fans - including 20 wins from their last 21 - although one concern this evening will be that they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six home games.

7.19pmIndeed, they have only kept two clean sheets at home in the Champions League from seven attempts all season, although they are unbeaten in their last 10 here, including qualifiers. That includes six wins and a draw from seven outings this season, during which time they have scored 16 goals, and of teams to have played more than 30 home matches in the competition, only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have a better win percentage in front of their own fans than Monaco - some elite company.

7.21pmA daunting task for Juventus then? Perhaps for most teams, but Juve have just come off the back of a successful visit to the Camp Nou, so they will fancy their chances in this tie too. The experience aspect has been talked about a lot in the build-up to this match, and it is just as true for the clubs as it is for the players. This is only Monaco's fourth European Cup semi-final, and they have only won one of the previous three, whereas Juve are bidding to reach their ninth final and have lifted the trophy on two occasions.

7.23pmIn truth, two European Cup successes is not really enough for a club of Juve's stature, but they are starting to establish themselves as a major force on the continental stage and could reach their second final in three years this season having not reached the semis once from 2003-04 to 2013-14. Restoration of their European ambition is the next step for a club that has utterly dominated domestically in recent seasons, and as was the case two seasons ago, they are still on course for the treble as they enter May this term.

7.25pmTheir dominance in Serie A has continued this term and they now stand on the brink of a record sixth consecutive league title, enjoying a nine-point gap over second-placed Roma with only four games of the season remaining. They are also in the Coppa Italia final, where they will face Lazio having beaten Napoli in the semis.

7.27pmJuventus lost to Napoli in the second leg of that semi-final, but that is their only defeat in their last 22 outings across all competitions - and it proved to effectively be a meaningless one. Juve have chalked up 17 victories and 14 clean sheets in that time too, while their current unbeaten streak stands at six matches heading into this game. Monaco may be in fine fettle themselves, but this Juve team is not easily beaten.

7.29pmThat is particularly true in the Champions League, where they are one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in this season's competition - alongside Real Madrid. They have won seven and drawn three of their 10 European outings this term and have conceded a tournament-low two goals throughout - none of which have come in their last five games. Having kept both Porto and Barcelona from scoring in the knockout rounds, Juve are currently on a run of 531 minutes without conceding a Champions League goal.

7.31pmJuve have won four and drawn one of their five away outings in this competition too, with the only 'blemish' being that impressive 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou in the last round when they were protecting a 3-0 advantage. They have scored 10 goals in those away games and conceded just one, but in all competitions their away record has not been overly impressive of late, with just one win from their last five. Three of those have been draws, though - something which would constitute a decent result tonight - and Juve have only lost one of their last 11 on the road.

7.33pmPerhaps the biggest concern for the Old Lady this evening will be their away record at this stage of the competition, which is surprisingly poor for a team who have such a good record in semi-finals. Juventus have only ever won one of their previous 11 Champions League semi-final away games, with that coming against Ajax 20 years ago. Despite this record, Juve have still managed to progress from seven of their last eight Champions League semi-finals, so defeat would not necessarily be the end of their hopes in this season's competition.

7.35pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at the Stade Louis II, which means that it is time for a prediction! This is such an intriguing and fascinating contest between two sides with such contrasting but impressive attributes - the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. Monaco's home record is formidable, while Juve have wavered on the road of late, but the visitors are masters of doing what they need to do and their extra experience could be invaluable today. I am going to go for a 1-1 draw which would give Juve the slight advantage at the halfway stage of the tie.

7.37pmThese two teams have actually met once in the semi-finals of the Champions League before, with Juventus running out winners on that occasion in 1997-98. Monaco won the home leg - as they have in all of their previous semi-finals in this competition - but that was not enough to undo the damage from the first leg as Juve emerged victorious on aggregate.

7.39pmThat is one of two previous occasions that these sides have faced each other in this competition, with the other coming just two years ago as Juventus beat Monaco in the quarter-finals on the way to the final itself. A sole Arturo Vidal penalty proved to be enough on that occasion, with the home tie finishing goalless. Juventus are now unbeaten in their last six games against French opposition stretching back to 2009, yet their record in France itself is fairly mixed with five wins, three draws and five defeats.

7.41pmJuve have, however, won all 11 of their previous two-legged ties against Ligue 1 opposition, while they have beaten French teams in no fewer than four European semi-finals in the past - three of which have come in the Champions League. Indeed, Juventus have beaten a French team in the last four on both of the previous occasions that they have won this competition, so victory in this tie would be a very good omen for the Turin outfit.

7.43pmRight, the players are out, the anthem has been blared out and we're just about ready to go here! What an occasion this promises to be!

1 minKICKOFF: Here we go then! We're underway at the Stade Louis II for this mouth-watering contest!

3 minThe first thing to tell you is that Juve have indeed gone for three at the back as expected once the team sheets were released. Interesting to see how both teams adapt to that!

5 minJuve have made a good, confident start to this match as they look to settle into the game quickly. Still very early days, but it has been a promising opening so far.

8 minPoor from Monaco as they give the ball straight to Dybala, who embarks on a good run down the left flank before pulling the ball back towards Higuain. The striker looks set to collect it just outside the area, but mysteriously falls over before he can get there and a decent position goes begging.

10 minLovely football between Alves and Dybala as the pair exchange passes to send Alves to the byline down the right channel. Mandzukic wants the ball stood up at the back post, but Alves instead fires a low one straight into the arms of the keeper.

12 minCHANCE! Chance for Juventus to grab an early away goal here, and it is more fine football from the visitors. Alves fires the ball into the area for Higuain, but he can't make the most of the opening.

13 minCHANCE! Big chance at the other end of the field as Mbappe peels away from Mandzukic in the box and has a free header in the middle of the area. It really is a great chance for the youngster, but he plants his header straight at Buffon.

14 minMarchisio's eyes light up as the ball drops kindly to him just outside the area, but he gets his attempted volley all wrong and skews it a long way off target.

16 minCHANCE! You just cannot switch off from this Monaco attack for one second. Dirar curls a fine ball around the defence for Mbappe, whose pace and movement leaves the defence for dead. He gets a good first-time touch on his volley to turn it goalwards too, but Buffon makes a really smart save down low to his left.

18 minJuventus will be relatively pleased with how they have started this match, but they have already dodged two warning shots from Mbappe and they may not be so lucky if there is a third time. Mbappe again goes dancing down the right touchline here, but this time his cross is blocked.

19 minCHANCE! Another sight of goal for the hosts as Falcao soars above Barzagli at the back post and gets a good, firm header towards goal. It may just be clipping the post on the way behind, but Buffon is taking no chances and pushes it wide.

20 minCHANCE! The original corner comes to nothing, but the ball soon arrives back into the middle and Glik climbs highest. The defender cannot steer his header on target, though.

21 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the night is shown to Bonucci for a rash sliding challenge on Falcao.

23 minWe're midway through the first half now and, after a bright start from Juventus, it is Monaco who have created the best chances of the game and perhaps should be in front.

25 minCHANCE! Decent sight of goal for Juve as Chiellini flicks a corner on to the back post, where Higuain is waiting. The striker tries a first-time volley, but hooks it back across the face of goal when he should have at least hit the target. He got that one all wrong.

27 minNo goals so far, but this match is finely poised as we approach the half-hour mark. It has ebbed and flowed between the two sides, with both enjoying spells in the ascendancy so far.

29 minGOAL! Monaco 0-1 Juventus (Gonzalo Higuain)

29 minFirst blood goes to Juventus, and what a fine team goal this is from the visitors! Marchisio, Dybala and Alves are all involved in a slick team move that cuts Monaco apart with a series of quick passes and lovely flicks. Alves caps it off with a lovely back-heel into the path of Higuain, who strokes his finish into the bottom corner.

31 minThat is a devastating reminder for Monaco of the fine margins at which matches at this level can be decided. Monaco have had chances themselves to be ahead, but they could end up ruing them following that crucial away goal.

33 minMonaco look for an immediate response as Lemar swings a lovely free kick into a very dangerous area, but Higuain gets a crucial toe to it before it finds Bakayoko. What's more, the officials didn't see the touch and Juventus have a goal kick to relieve the pressure.

35 minHere is that clinical team move from Juventus in all its glory...

37 minYELLOW CARD! Fabinho goes into the book for a crunching challenge on Pjanic.

38 minSAVE! The resulting free kick is of interest to both Dybala and Pjanic, but it is the former who takes it on and curls one over the wall that Subasic collects with minimum fuss. Decent effort, but not good enough.

40 minMonaco come forward through Mbappe again, and the youngster tries to find Falcao in the box with an outside-of-the-boot cross. It almost makes it too, but it is cut out before Juventus eventually complete the clearance.

42 minMonaco's pressure is just beginning to grow a little bit more towards the end of this half, but Juventus are looking solid and have done ever since that good spell for the hosts between the 14th and 20th minutes.

44 minHiguain now has 30 goals for the second consecutive season, but he has been accused of failing to shine in the big games in the past. Not today, though!

45 minHALF TIME: Monaco 0-1 Juventus

8.40pmThe first half comes to an end at the Stade Louis II and it is Juventus who have the crucial away-goal advantage as things stand. It has been an entertaining contest so far with chances for both sides, but Monaco must push for a goal in the second half if they are to boost their chances of progressing through to the final.

8.42pmThe only goal of the game so far came in style from Juventus as they strung together a stunning team move that saw eight of their players touch the ball before Higuain tucked it home. That included a couple of audacious flicks and tricks from Dybala and Alves in the build-up, and Higuain raced on to the latter's back-heel to bury a clinical finish into the bottom corner.

8.44pmHiguain and Alves have both had other sights of goal for the visitors, but the best chances aside from the opener have fallen for Monaco, and more specifically Mbappe. The youngster first latched on to a lofted ball into the area but could only plant his header straight at Buffon, while moments later he brilliantly engineered a shot on goal which Buffon once again needed to turn past the post.

46 minKICKOFF: Monaco get us back underway for the second half, and it is a huge 45 minutes which awaits the hosts here. You feel that they need at least one goal.

47 minCHANCE! The hosts have made a very bright start to this second half, and they are close to levelling things up within less than two minutes of the restart. Silva threads a pass through to Falcao in the box and the striker takes it into his path but can only fire a tame finish straight at Buffon.

49 minIt looks as though Jardim has told his side to go out there and attack Juventus in this second half. They are playing with a much better tempo and have threatened to get in behind the visitors on a couple of occasions already since the interval.

51 minSAVE! Another stop for Buffon to make, but this is routine for a keeper of his quality. Bernardo Silva lets fly from range and catches his shot well enough, but it is straight at Buffon and he gathers comfortably.

52 minSHOT! Alves tries his luck from range at the other end of the field as the ball drops nicely for him, but his dipping volley is never really threatening Subasic's goal.

54 minCHANCE! Another shooting chance for Juventus, and this one is a lot more dangerous. Marchisio steals possession in a dangerous position and suddenly finds himself with only Subasic to beat, but the Monaco keeper sticks out a leg to make a big save which could well keep his side in this tie.

56 minThis has been end-to-end stuff so far in this second half, and this time it is Monaco's turn to come forward through Dirar down the right. He cuts a low cross into the area, but Mbappe is just short of connecting with it.

58 minYELLOW CARD! Marchisio gets his name taken by the referee for a cynical trip on Fabinho.

59 minGOAL! Monaco 0-2 Juventus (Gonzalo Higuain)

59 minTie over? Juventus have their second away goal of first leg and, having never scored an away goal in a Champions League knockout tie before tonight, Higuain how has two to his name. Dybala and Alves hound Bakayoko in possession and win the ball to immediately launch a counter-attack. Dybala pokes it into the path of Alves, who floats an inch-perfect cross to Higuain, who slides in and steers the ball past Subasic. Another big goal from the striker, but he owes a massive thank you to Alves for that delivery.

61 minThere is a long, long way back for Monaco in this tie now. They need at least one goal tonight, but right now they are looking a bit shell-shocked. Juventus may be just one step too far for them at this stage of their development.

63 minThe Juventus striker has really stepped up to the plate tonight...

65 min...and here is that second goal from Higuain - and just as importantly, that second assist from Alves.

67 minMONACO SUB: The hosts make a double change as they chase the game now, with Bakayoko and Lemar making way to be replaced by Valere Germain and Joao Moutinho.

69 minYELLOW CARD! Chiellini is the latest player in the book for an elbow on Falcao - something the referee saw and brandished his yellow card very quickly. That could have been a red card with a different referee.

71 minMonaco have less than 20 minutes to rescue themselves in this tie. A 2-0 home defeat to Juventus would leave them needing a hugely unlikely comeback in Turin, where Juve have been almost untouchable this season. Monaco need at least one goal to keep the tie alive.

73 minSHOT! Moutinho tries to get that goal in style, letting fly from 30 yards out but seeing his powerful strike fly well over. Juve will be happy as long as the shots continue to arrive from out there.

75 minVery nearly a chance for Monaco to pull one back, but it is quickly snuffed out by Bonucci. Moutinho chips a lovely ball over the defence for Silva, who chests it down before Bonucci gets a foot in. The referee blows for a handball against the Monaco man anyway, but that was a good bit of invention from Moutinho at least.

77 minJUVENTUS SUB: Higuain will not be emulating Ronaldo by getting a semi-final hat-trick tonight - he makes way to be replaced by Juan Cuadrado in Juve's first change of the night.

79 minFor one brief second it looks as though Falcao may have a chance to reduce the arrears as he collects the ball with his back to goal inside the area, but it bounces up and hits his hand.

81 minRare mistake from Chiellini, but he gets away with it. The Italian was trying to cut the ball out at his near post but it squirmed under his foot before bouncing across the face of goal and to safety.

81 minJUVENTUS SUB: Another change for Juventus as Tomas Rincon replaces Marchisio.

82 minMONACO SUB: Monaco also make a sub - their third and last of the night - as Almamy Traore replaces Silva.

84 minJuventus are looking so comfortable at the moment and they will have many people backing them if they get to the final - as it looks like they will after this first leg. They have kept Barcelona's attack at bay and are doing the same to Monaco here - the two most potent attacks in Europe. Could Ronaldo and co of Real Madrid be next?

86 minJuventus are just allowing Monaco to control possession now, even in their half, but they are defending their box very stubbornly. No way through so far for the hosts.

88 minMonaco have a chance to pull one back late on as they win a free kick in a good crossing position. Moutinho swings a beauty into the middle, but Falcao is just short of making contact with it.

89 minJUVENTUS SUB: A third and final change from the visitors sees Mario Lemina replace Pjanic.

90 minCHANCE! Huge chance for Monaco to give themselves a lifeline in the tie! Again it comes from a free kick that is floated into a good area and Germain connects with it well, but Buffon is there to tip it over the crossbar.

90+3 minFULL TIME: Monaco 0-2 Juventus

9.43pmAnother test against a free-scoring attack comfortably dealt with by Juventus, then. This win will send a warning out to the Madrid clubs that Juventus are very much in the running for the Champions League title this year, and they have put one foot in the final with this 2-0 away victory. Gonzalo Higuain's brace means that Monaco need to score twice in Turin next week against a Juventus side who have conceded just twice in the whole competition to date - a huge asked for Leonardo Jardim's youthful squad.

9.45pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's fascinating contest between Monaco and Juventus as the Old Lady put themselves on the brink of the Champions League final courtesy of Gonzalo Higuain's brace. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao in action during his side's Champions League last 16 first leg against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017
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