Weston McKennie’s early assist for Juventus set the tone for an overall fine performance, as the Bianconeri were able to finally prevail over a plucky Monza squad to reach the final eight of the competition.
Juventus 2 – 1 Monza
For the second time in three games, McKennie was deployed on the right side of Massimiliano Allegri’s formation, and once again a strong showing might tip the coach’s hand to continue the experiment, with the return of Paul Pogba from a lengthy injury layoff looming.
The American played the full 90 minutes as a right midfielder/wing-back hybrid, and showed his versatility on both sides of the ball. He had a total of 54 touches, completing 80% of his 30 passes in the process, took one shot, served up one assist and was accurate on four of his combined five long balls and crosses.
On the defensive side, he made a pair of interceptions, three recoveries, three clearances and won three of nine duels.
Juventus looked headed to a big win after they grabbed the initiative early-on, with McKennie’s pinpoint-accurate cross from near the endline on the right side being headed in by center-forward Moise Kean at the far post.
Still, the visitors fought back, dominated possession against the Italian giants, and managed to put the game back on even terms shortly past the midway point of the half on one of the first of their nine corners throughout the game.
Andrea Colpani fired an inswinging delivery from the right corner flag, which Mattia Valoti put into the far side of goal with a glancing header for the 24th-minute equalizer.
Kean came close to grabbing a second in the 49th minute, breaking free into the right side of the area, only to see his low shot blocked at the last instant by Monza keeper Alessio Cragno.
However, the Old Lady finally found their winner with 12 minutes left in regulation, with Federico Chiesa netting his first goal since recently returning from a long time out while recovering from injury.
Receiving the ball from Alex Sandro in the left flank, Chiesa beat his marking defender to advance into the box and found a narrow line between the crowd of Monza players between him and goal, before lofting his 18-yard shot towards the upper right corner to secure the 2-1 victory.
With the preliminary rounds out of the way, Juve will face face a tough visit to fellow Serie A team Lazio in the February 2 quarterfinal. Beforehand, they will have to contend with a surging Atalanta squad, who have scored a remarkable 13 goals in their last two games.