TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision not to speak to the media after scoring a hat-trick at Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday, saying the Portuguese had already done his talking on the pitch.
The 36-year-old scored three goals in 32 minutes as Juve bounced back from their midweek Champions League lat-16 exit to Porto with a 3-1 win in Sardinia.
Ronaldo came in for widespread media criticism for his performance in Tuesday’s second leg, when Juventus went out on away goals to Porto following a 4-4 aggregate draw, and declined to give a post-match interview in Cagliari.
The forward scored a perfect treble with his head, right foot and left foot, and turned to the camera to point to his ear in an apparent response to his critics after netting his third.
“He was angry like the whole team was angry this week, because failing to qualify in the Champions League brought some sadness into the group,” Pirlo told Sky Italia.
“But he didn’t speak because he already spoke on the pitch by scoring three goals and putting in a great performance.
"It’s not important that you talk after the game, it’s what you do on the pitch that counts.”
Ronaldo was booked after scoring his first goal when he caught Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in the face with a high foot as they both went for a cross and Pirlo was asked if he feared a red card.
“No, because it was a classic situation where he was looking at the ball and didn’t realise that he would clash with the goalkeeper. But the VAR is there to decide and will have looked at what to do,” the coach said.
Champions Juve are third in the table and have a 10-point gap to leaders Inter Milan to make up, albeit with a game in hand, if they are to reclaim the title they have held for the last nine consecutive years.
“We must only think about ourselves, we need to win our games and hope that Inter drop some points,” Pirlo said.
"Our objective is to get as many points as possible and that means winning all our matches.“
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)