A fine first-half Paul Pogba strike earned Juventus a share of the spoils from tonight’s 1-1 draw with Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium.
Simone Zaza put the Neroverdi in front inside the opening 12 minutes but a Pogba blockbuster from the edge of the area ensured their lead was short-lived.
In a combative affair lacking in clear-cut chances for either side, Massimiliano Allegri, who made three changes from the win over Roma, threw caution to the wind after the break by adding Kingsley Coman and Sebastian Giovinco to the mix, but the winner failed to materialise.
Sassuolo it was who started the sharper of the two sides, pushing their three-pronged strikeforce right up on the toes of the Bianconeri backline during a frenetic introduction to proceedings.
And after spurning a chance to take the lead when Fernando Llorente’s nudge goalwards was blocked by Andrea Consigli, Juventus soon found themselves trailing as Zaza, who opened the scoring in last season’s corresponding fixture, made lightning strike twice at the Mapei Stadium by steering the ball home from close range on 12 minutes.
Falling behind sparked the Bianconeri into life and six minutes later the determination of Carlos Tevez created an opportunity for Paul Pogba, who duly obliged by dispatching a 25-yard strike that flew past a motionless Consigli.
As an entertaining first half progressed, Juventus increased their presence in enemy territory and produced two good chances in quick succession to edge their noses in front. With a show of skill and close control, Pogba waltzed past several Neroverdi bodies but saw his effort blocked by Consigli, who also beat out Tevez’s follow up just seconds later.
The Neroverdi came out for the second 45 minutes with fresh impetus and, with heavy but disciplined pressing, managed to stem the Juventus tide that had been flowing in their direction towards the end of the opening period.
In search of a breakthrough, Allegri sent on Claudio Marchisio for Patrice Evra in a move that saw the visitors revert to a back four. This change was swiftly followed by the introduction of Coman, who replaced Llorente.
The fleet-footed Frenchman almost made an immediate impact, showing good skill to bring the ball under control in a congested penalty area, only to slice his left-footed effort wide at the vital moment.
An opportunity also fell the way of his fellow countryman Paul Pogba as the clock ticked into the final 15 minutes, but Consigli remained equal to the task by pushing his close-range strike out of harm’s way.
Allegri sharpened the Bianconeri’s attacking presence by introducing Sebastian Giovinco to the fray at the expense of Andrea Pirlo, but increased pressure in the final third failed to yield a winner as the plucky hosts held firm for a point.
The result sees Juventus’ lead at the top trimmed to a solitary point after Roma overcame Chievo 3-0 earlier on in the day.