TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said he had reached an agreement with Cristiano Ronaldo in the week leading up to his side’s 3-1 win over Lazio on Saturday that the Portuguese would be rested.
Serie A’s top goalscorer started on the bench as Juve came from behind to beat Lazio in the Juventus Stadium.
Trailing 2-1 in their Champions League last 16 clash with Porto ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Turin, Pirlo decided to give the 36-year-old Ronaldo a break.
“He came from eight or nine consecutive games, we made an agreement during the week (for Ronaldo to be rested), it was already planned,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.
“Cristiano is an added value, the boys have done what they had to do tonight without him. Cristiano has already scored 20 goals, it was normal that others also scored.”
Joaquin Correa’s opener gave Lazio a surprise lead before goals from Adrien Rabiot and a double from Alvaro Morata helped Juve close the gap on leaders Inter Milan to six points.
“We started badly due to our mistake with a back pass and we opened the goal to Lazio,” Pirlo added.
“There was a great reaction and despite the many (injury) absences we played an excellent match. We didn’t get down and that’s the most important thing.”
Lazio were looking comfortable with their first-half lead before Rabiot’s equaliser, but the defending for Juve’s second was poor and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s clumsy tackle on Aaron Ramsey to concede the penalty for the third goal was needless.
“To win here you need to be perfect and we did it in the past,” coach Simone Inzaghi said. “We had a good match but with too many mistakes, and Juve does not forgive.
“By playing like this but by limiting mistakes we will win again.”
Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond
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