Andrea Pirlo saluted the spirit of his Juventus side after they came from behind to seal a 3-1 win over Lazio in Serie A on Saturday.
The Bianconeri fell behind to Joaquin Correa’s 14th-minute strike, but powered back to claim all three points thanks to Adrien Rabiot’s fine strike and Alvaro Morata’s second-half brace – the second of which came from the penalty spot.
Morata’s double took his goal involvement tally this season to 15 (seven goals, eight assists) – his best return in a Serie A campaign.
The result means third-placed Juve are now seven points behind leaders Inter, having played the same number of games.
With an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Porto, which the Portuguese side hold a 2-1 advantage in, Pirlo opted to shuffle his pack against Lazio.
Serie A’s leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo started on the substitutes’ bench, while Federico Bernardeschi was deployed at left-back and Danilo was used in a defensive midfield role.
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While Pirlo was disappointed with his side’s sluggish start, he was pleased they were able to secure all three points after going behind for the first time since the 2-1 win over Torino in December.
“We started badly and conceded with our poor back pass, but then there was a strong reaction from the whole team despite missing so many players,” he told DAZN.
“We didn’t let our heads drop, we started to step up the tempo and that was the most important thing.
“We thought about Tuesday’s game. We knew tonight was like a final, some had to play in new positions and showed great professionalism and spirit of sacrifice.
“The most important thing was the three points. Danilo was ready to work in central midfield, while Bernardeschi deserves all the compliments for playing as a left-back.
“What I liked the most was the reaction of the team, as we didn’t accept being behind in such a delicate and important game, so it was that spirit I appreciated.”
While he did not get on the scoresheet, Federico Chiesa was particularly impressive for the reigning champions, and the winger, who laid on Morata’s first, believes something has sparked amongst his team-mates.
“We put in a great performance, but only after conceding the opening goal, which was a mistake,” he said. “We proved that we have heart, grit and I think we’ll battle to the end if we play like this.
“Lazio have shown themselves to be a great team, always in the fight for the top four, so it was a big game. Having said that, they are all big if we want to win the Scudetto.
“I do what the coach asks of me. Winning the ball back comes above all from the team pressing and not just individuals. The assist was mine, but I was able to get the ball because we all worked so hard to win it back.
“After tonight, I think we’re all in great shape. Something sparked within us and from now on every game is a final, whether it’s in Serie A, the Champions League or the Coppa Italia.”
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