BRUNO FERNANDES has come to Cristiano Ronaldo’s defence following Juventus’ shock Champions League exit last night.
The Italians were stunned by 10-men Porto in Turin as the visitors progressed to the quarters on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.
The defining moment came in extra time when Sergio Oliveira’s free-kick flew under Ronaldo’s outstretched leg and past Wojciech Szczesny’s outstretched hands.
Ronaldo has since come under fierce criticism for failing to stand his ground in an attempt to block the long-range strike – instead jumping and turning his back.
And with Juventus also in danger of losing their nine-season Serie A title streak to Inter Milan, there are even question marks over Ronaldo’s future at the club this summer.
However, Manchester United star Fernandes insists his Portugal team-mate remains one of world football’s best players.
And Juve’s defeat cannot be blamed on Ronaldo when there were ten other players on the field wearing the famous black-and-white strip.
Fernandes told Gazzetta: “Ronaldo? Cristiano is one of the greats in the history of football.
“His mentality inspires those who practice this sport. He has won a lot, but no one can win alone.
“I understand that his presence in Juve had created enormous expectations for the Champions League.
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“But when a team loses, they lose as an entire squad, not a single player.
“I’m not surprised (by the result). Porto has a winning mentality, plays aggressive football and I expected them to create problems for Juventus.”
Meanwhile, Juve boss Andrea Pirlo bemoaned the Porto free-kick that condemned his side to another early elimination.
He said: “We choose the players to go in the wall. It had never happened before that they’d turn around. Maybe they felt it was so far out that they didn’t sense the danger.
“It was a mistake, it usually doesn’t happen, the players didn’t feel it was a dangerous situation and conceded a goal.
“When you make four big errors over two legs in the Champions League Round of 16, you can get eliminated.
“We didn’t get it wrong when Porto were down to 10, as all we could do was try to spread them out by moving the ball side to side and packing the penalty area with bodies. That is how the goals arrived.
“It will take a few days to cancel this game from our minds, but then we must face every game with the right attitude, realise we’re still only in March and have time to climb the Serie A table.”
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