Football

Allegri not taking place in final for granted

Juventus boss wary of Monaco side who 'have nothing to lose' in second leg

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri is wary of the Monaco team who will have "nothing to lose" when they visit Turin determined to avenge a 2-0 defeat and reach the Champions League final.

Yesterday morning (Singapore time), two goals from Gonzalo Higuain, both set up by Brazilian wingback Dani Alves, gave Serie A table-toppers Juve the upper hand in their two-legged semi-final clash with Monaco.

The principality club were held scoreless at the Stade Louis II for the first time in Europe this season, but Allegri knows Leonardo Jardim's men travel well, as evidenced by their recent display in Dortmund.

After praising his Bianconeri players, who are targeting a treble with the Scudetto all but secured and an Italian Cup final showdown with Lazio on the horizon, he urged caution ahead of the Turin tie.

Quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Allegri said: "These lads are having a season which could become something quite extraordinary. I must give my compliments to the team following this opening match in Monaco - it was not easy.

"We started well and Gianluigi Buffon made a fine save when it was still 0-0. Then, after our goals, we stayed focused.

"There's a lot for us to be happy about but, in the return leg, they will have nothing to lose, and we must be wary."

BROKE THE DEADLOCK

Higuain, who had not scored in his previous seven outings in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, broke 
the deadlock with a strike into the bottom corner from Alves' clever backheel.

The former Barcelona player then lofted the ball forward that Higuain stuck away just before the hour mark, thus capping a memorable evening in the principality for the 90-million-euro (S$137m) striker.

"I work for the team. It would have been okay even if I hadn't scored tonight, as long as Juve won," said Higuain.

"But we have not won anything yet, so we mustn't get carried away."

Asked about the striker's work-rate, Allegri replied: "He always plays like that.

"He scored two nice goals, which were above all important.

"I'm happy as they can't say any more that he doesn't score in Europe."

Monaco boss Jardim, like his counterpart Allegri, made sure to praise 39-year-old goalkeeper Buffon, who rolled back the years to frustrate teenage talent Kylian Mbappe.

At his post-match press conference, the Portuguese coach said: "I'm really happy with my players.

"They gave a great impression of French football tonight.

"Unluckily for us, Buffon made two or three unbelievable saves."

Buffon's showing yesterday morning was one of his best in Europe and, after losing the final in both 2003 and 2015, he is determined to secure the one major trophy that eludes him before calling time on his 22-year career.

"That's why I'm here," he told juventus.com.

"I have to prove I can still play at this level despite my age.

"What counts is that I step up when the team need me.

"As long as I can keep doing that, I'll be a happy man.

"My objective is for people to think it's a shame when I retire.

"That's why I'm still working so hard." - WIRE SERVICES

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