Monaco (AFP) – Two-goal hero Gonzalo Higuain urged his Juventus teammates to keep their feet on the ground after a brilliant 2-0 win in Monaco on Wednesday that left them on the brink of the Champions League final.
Argentine striker Higuain was set up by Dani Alves to open the scoring in the 29th minute and then converted an Alves cross just before the hour as Juve claimed a seemingly decisive victory in the semi-final first leg at the Stade Louis II.
The Italian champions have the final in Cardiff on June 3 in their sights, with a showdown against holders Real Madrid, Higuain’s former side, looking probable.
“The dream we have been pursuing since August has been to get to Cardiff and we are just one step away,” said Higuain, who was applauded off by the home support in Monaco.
He now has 31 goals this season following his 90 million-euro ($98 million) transfer from Napoli, helping Juve close on a potential treble.
Higuain, who ended a seven-game run without scoring in the Champions League knockout stages, added: “We have not won anything yet, so we mustn’t get carried away. I always kept calm. I knew everyone had faith in me and that hard work is always rewarded in the end.”
Juventus were immense in all areas against a Monaco side who have lit up Europe this season with their brand of attacking football.
– Buffon still going strong –
The hosts found the Juve defence to be impermeable, with Gianluigi Buffon majestic as ever in goal.
The 39-year-old, making his 149th European appearance, denied Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao in the first half and produced a stunning fingertip stop from Valere Germain late on.
Juventus, who welcome Monaco to Turin for the second leg next Tuesday, have now gone over 10 hours without conceding in the Champions League and Buffon has kept clean sheets in all five matches in the knockout rounds.
“In every game I want to show that I deserve to play at this level despite my age. I work hard every day for this. The day I quit, I want people to be sad about it,” remarked Buffon, twice a beaten finalist in the Champions League.
“We had the right approach. They are a fearsome team and the only way to beat them was playing the way we did.”
Buffon also praised coach Massimiliano Allegri for his decision to bring Andrea Barzagli into a three-man defence, thwarting Monaco’s attack and allowing Dani Alves to wreak havoc down the right.