MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo put a positive spin on his team’s first loss of the season.
The Juventus forward, who has been playing and scoring regularly despite facing a rape allegation in the United States, gave his team the lead but they still lost to Manchester United 2-1 in the Champions League.
Juventus had won all three of its previous matches in the competition and 10 of 11 in Serie A. The Italian league leaders next play at AC Milan on Sunday.
“It’s never nice to lose, but maybe this defeat comes at the best possible time,” Ronaldo said. “We have a great team, we’re top of the group and I’m sure we’ll go through as group winners.”
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Ronaldo has not appeared distracted since Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in September in Nevada claiming he raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request.
Ronaldo has denied wrongdoing and also complained that his personal life was being impacted by the allegation.
On Wednesday, Ronaldo scored a superb goal against his former club to give his team the lead, but Juventus again failed to finish off the opposition.
The six-time defending Italian champions almost conceded a late equalizer against Cagliari last weekend before scoring again and winning 3-1. And in Manchester two weeks ago, its dominance was not reflected by the 1-0 victory.
“If we want to get to the final in Madrid at the end of the season, we have to learn from tonight because it comes down to the small details,” Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said. “We should have won this game comfortably.
“We’re still in the mix and it’s better to lose now than further down the line but we must do better. It will bring us down a peg or two. This sort of thing had been in the air for a few games and we botched up big time tonight.”
Milan, which will be missing several players because of injury for Sunday’s match, has won its past three league games to move up to fourth in Serie A.
“We need to pick ourselves up right away because we have a massive game in Milan on Sunday,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We need to keep working.”
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