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'Ugly but efficient' Juventus knock out 'deserving' Monaco to reach Champions League semi-finals

Photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

A youthful and enthusiastic Monaco side were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Juventus on Wednesday. A controversial penalty in the first leg in Turin was enough for Juventus who progress to the semi-finals following their 1-0 aggregate win.

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Monaco pushed forward for long spells, but Serie A leaders Juventus were always in control and their experienced goalkeeper Gianlugi Buffon was never seriously tested.

The Italian side’s Andrea Pirlo came closest to scoring with a 90th-minute free-kick that clipped the bar.

Monaco can bow out with their heads held high, however it was unsurprising that a Juve team with a lead to defend was happy to soak up the pressure.

It has become an all-too-familiar story for Monaco. They have found the net just three times in four previous home games in the Champions League this season and have won only two of their last nine matches at the Stade Louis II.

Monaco are back in action at the weekend and will be aiming to put their European woes behind them.

A win against bottom-of-the-table Lens would go a long way towards helping them achieve a return to Champions League football next season. They are currently third, six points behind Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, but two ahead of Marseille.

Photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Yes, we defended well. Today was even our best game up to now. We deserved to win, at the least to score a goal, but unfortunately we couldn’t pull it off. The first leg was a very good game. We created a lot of opportunities, the same today. But unfortunately we weren’t successful. Monaco were better than Juventus on all levels, but unfortunately football’s like that – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, even if you’ve played well. Now, we must turn the page, it’s over. We must focus all our attention on the championship. Our objective is to be third, and why not, maybe second. There are five matches left. The team must win every possible game for a good season.

Photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

I think that certain players faced the two matches with a lot of pressure, because it's 12 years waiting and we were favourites. But this evening I think we must really congratulate Monaco’s team. It’s young, carefree. And like I said the game against Arsenal reminded me of our story [Evra reached the Champions League final with Monaco in 2004]. But unfortunately, the adventure has finished in the quarter-final. I tip my hat to Monaco because they deserve more. Maybe some people expected us to win 3-0 over the two legs. No, for the coach 1-nil and nil-nil was enough. He of course wanted us to score tonight, but it’s fine. We weren’t good, we weren’t bad, but efficient. We went through, that’s the essential thing.

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