Juventus continued to fight their way back into the Serie A title race, with an unconvincing late 3-1 win over ten-man Sassuolo at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday night.
Until Pedro Obiang was sent off late in the first half, the Old Lady failed to shine, but goals from Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo in the last 10 minutes won the game after Gregorie Defrel had cancelled out the opening goal from Danilo.
Overcoming league leaders AC Milan 3-1 at San Siro on Wednesday night appeared to have taken its toll on Andrea Pirlo’s men, as they gave a display in direct contrast to the quality and intensity shown at San Siro.
However, despite an uninspiring start in Turin, the hosts twice went close within the opening 10 minutes, with Ronaldo heading high over the crossbar, after out jumping the entire Neroverdi defence, and Gianluca Frabotta having a powerful drive tipped over.
Although Juventus controlled possession, a deep defensive line and ponderous passing played into the hands of Sassuolo, looking to spring forward on the counter-attack and resulted in Leonardo Bonucci and Rodrigo Bentancur picking up bookings for tactical fouls.
Yet it was a needless lunging challenge from Pedro Obiang on Federico Chiesa just inside the Juventus half on 45 minutes which changed the game, as VAR intervened to turn a yellow card into red.
The Old Lady almost immediately capitalised on the one-man advantage in injury time, but Ronaldo seemed to hesitate as he chased a Merih Demiral shot rolling agonisingly past an empty goal.
With Weston McKennie and Paulo Dybala also forced off through injury, it was an opening 45 minutes to forget for the reigning champions.
Juventus appeared to have taken control six minutes into the restart, though, as full-back Danilo ran onto a poor clearance 25 yards from goal and unleashed a low drive across Andrea Consigli into the net.
With Sassuolo’s next attack parity was restored, as Defrel’s precise first touch controlled a pass perfectly, allowing him to burst forward and slide the ball past a helpless Wojciech Szczesny with his next touch.
Attempting to hold firm for a valuable point in their own quest for European football next term, the Neroverdi invited the Bianconeri to attack almost at will and eventually saw Ramsey tap home from close range on 82 minutes.
As time ticked away and Sassuolo’s legs tired, though, Ronaldo was released and burst through on goal and fired past Consigli.