Monaco 0 Juventus 2: Gonzalo Higuain double puts Italians in Champions League ascendancy

Jerome Pugmire
Double delight: Higuain celebrates his second at the Stade Louis II: Getty Images

Record signing Gonzalo Higuain scored two opportunist goals and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made some crucial saves as Juventus won 2-0 at Monaco to take a commanding lead from the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

Monaco had scored 146 goals before this game, including three times home and away in the previous two knockout rounds. But Juventus gave a masterclass in how to withstand pressure and then punish on the counter attack, with both of Higuain's goals coming after good Monaco spells.

Higuain pounced in the 29th minute, side-footing home after Dani Alves had latched onto his pass down the right before back-heeling the ball back to the Argentina striker as he sprinted into the area.

Higuain hadn't scored against Barcelona in the round of 16, leading some to question his 90 million euros ($98 million) transfer from Napoli. This goal clearly meant a lot as he bounded over the advertising boards to emphatically milk the applause from the traveling fans.

The Juventus bench rose as one after Higuain slid in to turn home a deep cross in the 59th, with the irrepressible Alves again the provider.

Prior to Higuain's opener, Monaco's 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe forced two smart saves from the 39-year-old Buffon on his 100th Champions League appearance for the club. Buffon also clawed away a header from center back Kamil Glik.

Then, moments after the restart, Buffon showed great composure to read Radamel Falcao's shot and smother it, rather than committing too early and giving Monaco's top scorer an opening to wrong-foot him.

Buffon saved his best for the last minute, showing remarkable athleticism to tip over substitute Valere Germain's point-blank header.

The winner plays either Real Madrid or city rival Atletico, with Real heading into the return leg at Atletico 3-0 up thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick on Tuesday.

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