Soccer-‘Angry’ Juventus must not give up on top-four goal, says Pirlo

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Cagliari v Juventus - Sardegna Arena, Cagliari, Italy - March 14, 2021 Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo

(Reuters) - Andrea Pirlo called on his Juventus players to continue believing in Champions League qualification after they were left furious by a damaging 3-0 defeat by AC Milan on Sunday.

The loss in Turin meant Juve dropped out of the top four and into fifth place, one point behind Napoli in fourth, with three games remaining.

Pirlo's side are at risk of failing to qualify for Europe's top club competition for the first time in a decade ahead of their trip to Sassuolo on Wednesday.

"We are very angry. I do not want to see resignation on the faces of the players," Pirlo told a news conference.

"We are Juventus and we cannot be resigned. We must fight until the end."

Pirlo was part of the AC Milan team that famously surrendered a 3-0 halftime lead to lose to Liverpool on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the 2005 Champions League final, and he used the game as an example of how quickly things can change.

"I have seen it all, I have lost a Champions League final after winning 3-0 at halftime. We still have the chance to reach our objective," he said.

"There was great disappointment because we lost 3-0 in an important game and a head-to-head clash with a rival.

"But like I said, anything can happen in football and our objective has not changed. It is up to us and we hope that they will slip up. We have the duty to believe until the end."

Juventus' poor season, in which they were also knocked out of the Champions League by Porto at the last-16 stage, has led to widespread reports that Pirlo will be replaced at the end of the season.

"I am not afraid, I am only thinking about the good of Juventus, which is more important than anything. Then the results will dictate if I will be the coach," he said.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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