Milan (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo rescued a 2-2 draw for Juventus at home against Sassuolo on Sunday but the result left the way open for Inter Milan to take top spot in Serie A.
“We didn’t use our heads,” lamented Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri.
Leonardo Bonucci had scored early for the eight-time reigning Serie A champions but Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo hit back for Sassuolo before Ronaldo’s point-saving intervention from the spot in Turin.
Juventus have a two-point lead on top of Serie A but can be overtaken by Inter Milan, who host struggling SPAL later on Sunday.
Sassuolo, in 12th, claimed their first ever point at Juventus, and held Sarri’s unbeaten champions to their third draw of the season.
“We got into trouble on our own, we didn’t use our heads in the first half, as the goals conceded show,” said Sarri.
“Every time we lost the ball we left ourselves open. We had a first half without application and little energy from the character point of view.
“But we were coming off two games in which we used up a lot of energy against Atalanta and Atletico Madrid.
“The reaction came at the end and we could even have won it.”
Ronaldo started up front, having missed last weekend’s league game with a slight knee problem, as Paulo Dybala, who scored in their Champions League win over Atletico Madrid, started on the bench.
Eighteen-year-old Stefano Turati made an impressive debut in the Sassuolo goal, and pulled off a string of fine saves, denying Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala late.
But Juventus counterpart Gianluigi Buffon had a nightmare. The 41-year-old, making just his fifth start this season, was at fault in Caputo’s goal just after the break.
Bonucci got Juventus off the mark with a long-range effort on 20 minutes.
Three minutes later Boga pounced on a Caputo cross and sent it past an out-rushing Buffon from an angle.
– ‘Recover brilliance’ –
Caputo added a second following a mix-up between Juan Cuadrado and Matthijs De Ligt in the Juventus defence, with Buffon then fumbling the effort into the back of the net.
Turati got down low to deny Higuain after getting his hand to send a Ronaldo free kick over the bar.
Ronaldo’s penalty pulled the hosts level on 68 minutes after Filippo Romagna fouled substitute Dybala.
It was the Portuguese star’s fifth Serie A goal this season.
“Ronaldo has regained stamina, the next step will be to recover brilliance, but the road is right,” insisted Sarri.
Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi hailed “an important point” for his team.
“You need courage when playing here, otherwise you’re dead before kick-off,” said De Zerbi.
He also heaped praise on Turati for his solid performance.
“The lad is crazy completely. Yesterday I called him in the hotel and told him to enjoy it, that if he didn’t sleep it was normal, but not to have too many expectations, too much anxiety.”
Later, Inter host SPAL with third-placed Lazio at home against Udinese and city rivals Roma at Verona.
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