A rousing response led by Carlos Tevez, Claudio Marchisio and Fernando Llorente enabled Juventus to battle back from an early deficit in Reggio Emilia to secure a priceless 3-1 win over Sassuolo this evening.
Simone Zaza’s goal after nine minutes meant the Bianconeri were faced with an uphill task against a Neroverdi side unbeaten in their last three, but Antonio Conte’s men dusted themselves off to claim a deserved victory which takes them eight points clear of nearest rivals Roma with three games remaining.
Tevez got the Juventus revival off the ground with a thunderbolt from the edge of the box ten minutes before the break, while neat finishes from Marchisio and Llorente capped off an improved second-half performance in style.
It was the relegation threatened hosts who made an energetic start to proceedings, producing their first attempt on goal after just two minutes through Nicola Sansone’s well-struck effort which flashed just wide of Gigi Buffon’s far post.
But there was little the goalkeeper could do seven minutes later when Zaza ran on to Sansone’s pass and sent a low left-footed shot into the back of the net via the aid of a deflection off Angelo Ogbonna.
With the driving rain hampering their traditional passing game, Juventus toiled to break beyond disciplined Sassuolo pressing but did fashion a half-chance on 22 minutes, Tevez unleashing a fierce strike from the edge of the area that fizzed marginally off target.
However, the Argentine did not have to wait too much longer to make his presence felt. Collecting Claudio Marchisio’s square pass on 36 minutes, he shimmied past his man before dispatching a fierce shot that crashed past a Gianluca Pegolo at full stretch.
Yet Juventus had to remain on their toes as, minutes later, Sassuolo almost regained their advantage when the lively Zaza weaved his way into the box with purpose and intent, only to be denied by a top drawer save from Buffon at his near post.
The second half began very much in the same spirit as the first, with Sassuolo looking to prevent the Bianconeri from playing in between the lines by adopting heavy pressing tactics on those in possession.
But Conte’s men maintained their cool and, after Tevez’s deflected drive had drawn a save from Pegolo at his near post, found the lead they had been craving on 58 minutes.
It was a moment of class that put the visitors in front, Andrea Pirlo chipping a delicate pass into the penalty area which Marchisio gleefully tapped past the onrushing goalkeeper on the volley.
The midfielder could have doubled his tally nine minutes later but this time found Pegolo equal to his purposeful left-footed strike from the fringes of the box.
Also going close to a second goal was Tevez, who was unlucky to see his precise strike bounce back off the crossbar after being set up by substitute Stephan Lichtsteiner.
The Swiss wing-back weighed in with a winning pass on 76 minutes, careering down the right before squaring for Llorente to nonchalantly backheel over the line for his 15th Serie A goal of the season.
Antonio Damato’s final whistle sparked wild celebrations from a team who know that two points from their last three games will mathematically secure a historic third successive title.
But before thinking about the possibility of clinching domestic silverware next Monday against Atalanta at Juventus Stadium, the Bianconeri will immediately turn their attentions to their Europa League semi-final second leg against Benfica on Thursday, when they will look to set up another date with destiny on home soil.