Monaco, Juventus advance to semifinals

AP, Kyodo

Rising teenage star Kylian Mbappe and resurgent forward Radamel Falcao scored early goals as free-scoring Monaco beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to reach the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.

Dortmund trailed 3-2 from the first leg of the quarterfinal in Germany and conceded twice inside 20 minutes — meaning it needed to score three times to have a chance. Attacking midfielder Marco Reus pulled one back in the 48th minute.

But substitute Valere Germain, just after replacing Mbappe, added the third in the 81st minute to seal a 6-3 victory on aggregate. It was Monaco’s 141st goal of an incredible season that has captured the imagination and made the rest of Europe take notice.

“We knew they would give us space and we took advantage with the speed of our forwards. I think that today it could have ended up 5-3 or 6-3, because both sides missed chances,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “We were very solid, but we also showed a lot of ambition. We never tried to protect the result, because our DNA is to attack and to always try and score.”

Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa played the entire 90 minutes. With Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki going out the day before, Kagawa was the last Japanese remaining in the competition.

Kagawa was trying to reach the semifinals for the first time.

“To get to the next round, I need to take it up another notch, technically as well as physically,” the Japan midfielder said. “I didn’t think we would win 2-0. I thought we would need at least three goals.

“Even from the last 16 to the quarterfinals is a big jump in terms of the individual quality on the pitch.”

Kagawa tried to put a positive spin on the defeat despite a draining week for Dortmund, who were ordered by UEFA to play on following the bomb attack on the team bus ahead of the first leg.

“Not everything is bad about this. We now know that some of what we do works at this level. We can definitely compete on this stage,” he said.

The home leg in Germany was overshadowed by an attack on the Dortmund team bus as it headed to the stadium. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Dortmund’s bus was held for nearly 20 minutes by police at the team hotel. Kickoff was briefly delayed.

Dortmund made the worst possible start to the match, conceding a goal after just three minutes.

Left back Bernard Mendy ran at the heart of Dortmund’s defense and hit a fierce shot that goalkeeper Roman Burki spilled. Mbappe slotted the loose ball into the bottom left corner for his 22nd goal of a breakthrough season that has made the 18-year-old one of the brightest prospects in European football.

He had scored twice in the first leg and in both legs against Manchester City in the Round of 16.

Falcao’s diving header, the 27th goal of his comeback season, made it 2-0 in the 17th minute.

Reus pulled one back when he turned in a rightwing cross from substitute Ousmane Dembele to offer some hope, before Germain sprinted through to send Stade Louis II crowd into raptures.

After the drama of last week’s attack, this was a welcome return to euphoric, attacking soccer that was a joy to watch from start to finish.

Both sets of fans united in a touching show of support beforehand, singing the famed football anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as they raised scarves together.

In Barcelona, Juventus made sure there were no more miracles at Camp Nou on Wednesday, as the Italian visitors held Barcelona to a 0-0 draw and advanced to the Champions League semifinals.

The second-leg stalemate sealed a 3-0 win on aggregate and came six weeks after Barcelona’s historic 6-1 thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain, when the home side became the first team to ever overturn a 4-0 loss in the competition.

Juventus showed all the poise and experience that PSG had sorely lacked in the previous round.

“We knew Barcelona were ready to risk everything tonight, but we closed down all the spaces,” Juventus center back Leonardo Bonucci said. “Scoring three in the first leg and not conceding at the Camp Nou is the evidence that we are a great team. I think every team would like to avoid us now.”

True to the Italian tradition of defending an advantage, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had little work to do until late in the game, as Massimiliano Allegri’s side expertly absorbed Barcelona’s high-paced passing attack that ultimately produced few good scoring opportunities.

And when Lionel Messi did get free inside the area, Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer squandered both his chances to spark a fightback.

The only miracle seen in Barcelona this time was Juventus not getting a late goal, with the Spanish side barely having the legs to recover when defending.

Barcelona forward Neymar was consoled by former teammate Dani Alves, now playing for Juventus, after the final whistle while Barcelona’s fans cheered their team despite the elimination.

“Juventus is a great team and they were better than us,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. “It was a difficult result to turn around, although we tried until the end. They are an Italian club and defend very well. I wish them the best and I think they can win the title.”

Juventus joins Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Monaco in the semifinal draw on Friday.