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English Premiership

Vidal strikes as Juve labour past Monaco

VIDAL-MONACOTURIN, April 15- Chilean international Arturo Vidal struck a second half-penalty as Juventus laboured to a 1-0 win over a stubborn Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Turin on Tuesday.

Juventus had spurned several chances in the opening half when Monaco, who stunned Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates on their way to the last eight, also came close only for Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco to shoot straight at Gianluigi Buffon.

The Turin giants, however, were given a break by Czech referee Pavel Kralovec, who pointed to the spot just before the hour when Alvaro Morata, under pressure from Ricardo Carvalho, clattered to the ground on the edge of the area.

Monaco’s protests that the foul was outside the area went unheeded and Vidal, who had fired over twice in the opening half, calmed nerves by firing past Danijel Subasic and into the top corner.

Juventus welcomed back Andrea Pirlo after several weeks of absence due to injury, while Buffon and Carlos Tevez returned to the starting line up after missing the shock league defeat (1-0) to Parma last weekend.

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri opted for the 4-3-1-2 formation that saw the Italian champions sweep Borussia Dortmund aside 5-1 on aggregate to book their quarter-final place.

However that caused problems, as well as chances, for the hosts who went in for the half-time break with little reward for their efforts.

Spanish striker Morata fired a volley over from Pirlo’s delightful chip in the opening minutes while Tevez forced Subasic down low to block a 25-metre drive.

But Monaco quickly demonstrated their potency on the counter, the pace of Ferreira-Carrasco in particular causing problems for Swiss right-back Stephan Lichsteiner.

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When Layvin Kurzawa found space on the left, the left-back fired his effort over with Buffon covering the danger easily. Juve survived a bigger scare when Ferreira-Carrasco was set up inside the area only to fire straight at Buffon.

Those chances sparked Juve into life, but Monaco — who had conceded only four times in their past eight Champions League games — packed their defence tightly.

Tevez escaped to the back post but, while unmarked, shot straight at Subasic from Claudio Marchisio’s pinpoint delivery, while Tunisian defender Aymen Abdennour produced a timely block on Lichsteiner’s cross for Morata who was lurking at the far post.

Monaco had claims for a penalty waved away after teenage striker Antony Martial tumbled to the ground under pressure from Giorgio Chiellini as he muscled his way into the area while in possession.

Juve finished the half on a high, but in frustration after Tevez shot straight at Subasic while unmarked at back post from Marchisio’s chip before Vidal ballooned over after running on to a ball delivered by the outside of Tevez’s boot.

Monaco started brightly after the restart, but Buffon reacted quickly to substitute Bernardo Silva’s near-post drive although it looked slightly off target.

Juve finally broke the deadlock just before the hour, Vidal stepping up and, despite his earlier imprecision, smashing the ball past Subasic to send a packed-out Juventus Stadium into raptures.

Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia saw his long-distance drive tipped over by Buffon minutes later, and with 20 minutes remaining Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim reshuffled his side, replacing Italian defender Andrea Raggi with striker Dimitar Berbatov.

While the Bulgarian had an almost immediate impact, heading over from a corner, Monaco failed to grab the away-goal equaliser that would have given them a huge boost ahead of the April 22 return leg.

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