Juventus and Monaco join Madrid giants in Champions League semi-finals - The Irish News
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Juventus and Monaco join Madrid giants in Champions League semi-finals

Juventus players celebrate at the end of the Champions League quarter-final, second leg at the Nou Camp

Uefa Champions League quarter-final, second leg

Barcelona 0 Juventus 0 (agg: 0-3)

GIANLUIGI Buffon hailed a defensive masterclass after Juventus shut out Barcelona but the Italian goalkeeper claimed it would mean little if they did not win the Champions League.

Juventus advanced into the semi-finals of Europe's elite club competition after seeing off the Catalan giants 3-0 on aggregate, following up their Turin rout with a goalless draw at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.

While Lionel Messi had a rare off night, twice missing the target with gilt-edged opportunities, Barca were rarely afforded space in the final third and their movement was largely strangled by their obdurate quarter-final opponents.

Buffon only had to make a couple of saves thanks to the supreme efforts of those in front of him and the Italian goalkeeper, who has made more than 600 appearances for the Old Lady, paid tribute to his outfield players.

However, the Juve stalwart has urged his team-mates to keep pushing for glory, telling BT Sport 2: "We're very happy with these small victories but what we really want to do is go all the way.

"We knew it would be a very tough game, full of difficult moments because Barca are the strongest team in the world.

"We showed real conviction and personality to come here and play the way we did. There were certain periods, particularly in defence, when we showed we're a real team."

Buffon, who has only conceded twice in this season's competition and kept clean sheets in each of Juventus' four games in the knockout stages, has never won the Champions League in his illustrious career.

He has won seven Serie A crowns with Juventus, the UEFA Cup with Parma and the 2006 World Cup with Italy, but when asked what it would mean for him to lift Europe's top club trophy, he replied: "It's a wonderful challenge for me every year.

"At the start of the season we always set targets, that goes for life, too. I think that's essential if you want to get the best out of yourself and improve.

"We'll see if we're good enough to manage it, we haven't won anything just yet but we have put in two good performances over the two legs which have given us a real confidence boost."

His opposite number, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, admitted Barcelona were beaten by the better side.

"We had a first leg which was not good," he said. "We didn't have so many chances to pass (on Wednesday night). At the end it's deserved when you score three times.

"We didn't have so much luck sometimes so we were searching for the luck. We didn't find it so at the end we need to congratulate Juventus for the good match."

 

AS Monaco 3 Borussia Dortmund 1 (agg: 6-3)

MONACO manager Leonardo Jardim insists his free-scoring team are not among the favourites for Champions League success despite seeing off Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Stade Louis II to secure their place in Friday's semi-finals draw.

An early goal from Kylian Mbappe set the Ligue 1 leaders on their way, with Radamel Falcao heading a second before Marco Reus netted a consolation for Dortmund just after the restart and Monaco substitute Valere Germain then swept in a late third.

It was the fourth consecutive Champions League match in which Monaco had scored three goals, their impressive performance in the disrupted first leg having set the tone for Wednesday night's return.

The Germans were up against it having lost 3-2 at home last week, the match played a day later than originally scheduled after three bombs exploded close to the Dortmund bus, leaving defender Marc Bartra in hospital with arm injuries.

Although the Spaniard was able to attend the return match in Monaco and sit with his squad on the bench as well as deliver the final part of what was most-likely an emotional team talk, there was to be no fairytale ending as Monaco completed the job with another impressive victory.

Following a five-minute delay to kick off after the Dortmund team bus had been held up by police en route to the stadium, Mbappe fired the hosts into an early lead.

Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin hit a post with a free-kick before Falcao headed in a second for Monaco on 17 minutes to all-but end the match as a contest.

German midfielder Reus found the net at the start of the second half, but Monaco substitute Germain added a late third for Jardim's well-drilled outfit just moments after coming on.

Jardim, though, believes the Principality club, who are the first Ligue 1 side to reach the last four of the competition since Lyon in 2009-10, still have it all to do when taking on the European elite.

"All the players played to a high level tonight and I am very happy with the performance of all of them," said Jardim, whose squad came through the qualifiers to then see off the likes of Tottenham in the group stages and then Manchester City.

"At this level you cannot set limits for your players. We are representing a whole country. France isn't used to having teams reach this stage of the competition."

Jardim added in a press conference: "There are now three great teams (in the draw) with a lot of experience. We will enjoy it and play with our quality.

"We are not favourites, but we will have the ambition to qualify to the final."

Dortmund were earlier left unimpressed by their delayed arrival, which the Bundesliga club said in a post on Twitter was because the bus had been stopped by police "for approximately 20 minutes without justification".

Whatever the reasons behind the travel issues, there was nothing but support for Dortmund inside the ground.

Before kick-off, the home fans showed solidarity by unveiling a banner which read: "BVB: You Will Never Walk Alone" as the anthem played out around the Stade Louis II.

Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel accepted his side had come off second best, with Monaco's early goal 'destroying our belief'.

"We started well with one or two dangerous moves where we found some space and then conceded an unlucky goal. That destroyed our belief a bit, then we made too many mistakes in our passing and positioning," the German said.

"In the second half we tried to rally again, but we were never able to follow up on our goal.

"Altogether, our performance was not up to it.

"Unfortunately we didn't have the quality, energy or the luck to get into the semi-finals."

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