Lacklustre Juventus handed Porto victory ‘on silver platter’, says Pirlo

PORTO, PORTUGAL (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game for Juventus in his native Portugal ended in 2-1 defeat as FC Porto out-played the Italians for much of yesterday’s Champions League last-16, first leg tie.

Such was Juve’s lacklustre performance that coach Andrea Pirlo claimed his team handed victory to their hosts on “a silver platter”.

Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi put Porto ahead after just a minute at Estadio do Dragao following a Rodrigo Bentancur error.

And Mali striker Moussa Marega added a second straight after the break.

But Federico Chiesa pulled a goal back with eight minutes to go to keep Juventus afloat with the second leg in Turin on March 9.

“The approach was wrong from the first minute,” said Pirlo. “When you concede a goal like this it’s normal that fear sets in, you lack a bit of certainty.

Juventus’ Federico Chiesa reaches for the ball between Porto’s Luis Diaz and Zaidu Sanusi during the Champions League round of 16 match. PHOTO: AP

“Porto are good at closing down and after that goal it was much more difficult. We served them the match they wanted on a silver platter.

“Fortunately we scored an important goal through Chiesa and now we will focus on the return leg.”

It was a below-par performance by Juventus, chasing their third Champions League title and first in 25 years.

Record Champions League goal scorer Ronaldo, 36, drew a blank against a side captained by his Portuguese international teammate Pepe, as the visitors struggled to recover from their early blunder.

“We studied Juventus well,” said defender Pepe, who won three Champions League titles with Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

“We knew that we had to press hard to keep Juventus from playing. In these types of game, it’s difficult to concede goals at home, but we played a great game.”

It was a shocking start for Juventus, with Wojciech Szczesny sending the ball out to Bentancur, who passed back to the Polish goalkeeper despite Taremi being just in front of goal.

The Iranian quickly pounced to prod past Szczesny for his first Champions League goal.

Porto pressed forward with Juventus almost conceding a second on 23 minutes as Szczesny cleared straight to Sergio Oliveira whose shot was deflected away from goal.

To add to Andrea Pirlo’s woes captain Giorgio Chiellini limped off 10 minutes later with defender Merih Demiral coming off the bench.

The Italians suffered another terrible start to the second half with Marega picking up a Wilson Manafa cross to finish low past Szczesny.

Ronaldo had to wait until five minutes after the break to have a shot on goal. Weston McKennie nodded the ball into the path of the Portuguese star, whose weak effort was blocked.