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The Serie A top scorer sat on the bench and watched his team make up for a goal late to beat Lazio at Juventus.
Trailing 2-1 in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Porto ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, Pirlo decided to give the 36-year-old Ronaldo a rest.
Pirlo told Sky Italia: “He participated in eight or nine consecutive matches, we reached an agreement in the middle of last week (to rest Ronaldo), it was already planned.
“Cristiano added value, and the players did what they should do without him. Cristiano has already scored 20 goals, and it is natural for the others to score as well. ”
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A surprise goal from Joaquín Correa put Lazio ahead before Adrien Rabiot scored and Alvaro Morata scored twice, as Juventus narrowed the lead with leaders Inter Milan to 6 points.
Pirlo added, “We started the match in a bad way because of our mistake in this backward pass and we dedicated the goal to Lazio.”
He continued: “The reaction was great and despite many absences (due to injury) we played an excellent game. We did not fall and that is the most important thing. ”
Lazio was playing effortlessly in the first half before the equalizer scored by Rabio, but the defense in Juventus’ second goal was bad and Sergey Milinkovic-Savic interfered recklessly against Aaron Ramsey to cause a penalty kick that came from the third goal.
Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said: “You have to play perfectly to win here and we did it in the past. We played a good game but made a lot of mistakes, and Juventus are ruthless.
“We will win again if we play this way but with fewer mistakes.”