MILAN: Juventus again showed their reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo as, with the superstar attacker absent, they drew 1-1 at promoted Benevento on Saturday, while Serie A title rivals Inter Milan beat high-flying Sassuolo 3-0 to move second.
The champions’ fifth draw in nine league matches leaves Andrea Pirlo’s side fifth, three points behind leaders AC Milan who face Fiorentina on Sunday.
Ronaldo did not play after scoring in Juventus’s 2-1 victory over Ferencvaros on Tuesday which sealed their berth in the Champions League last 16.
Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala started up front in Ronaldo’s absence.
Morata, opened the scoring in the 21st minute after collecting Federico Chiesa’s cross-pitch pass to bring his tally to eight goals in all competitions this season.
Gaetano Letizia’s volley just before the break earned a point for 13th-placed Benevento.
Dybala wasted chances to score his first league goal this season, including one four minutes from time when goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo tipped over the bar.
Morata also missed opportunities to rescue Juventus before being shown a red card after the final whistle for arguing with the referee.
In Emilia-Romagna, Antonio Conte’s Inter bounced back from the 2-0 loss to Real Madrid which left their Champions League hopes dangling by a thread, inflicting this season’s first defeat on Sassuolo.
Inter move second ahead of Sassuolo, with both teams on 18 points after nine games, two points behind AC Milan and one ahead of Conte’s old team Juve.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring in the fourth minute following good work from Lautaro Martinez and poor defending from Sassuolo’s Vlad Chiriches.
It was a nightmare match for Chiriches who 10 minutes later accidently turned a powerful Arturo Vidal centre into his own net, with the Romanian later limping off with a muscular problem.
Roberto Gagliardini added a third just before the hour mark.
Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young came on in place of Lautaro and Sanchez for the final 10 minutes, with the Belgian forward having a goal ruled out for offside.
In Bergamo, Atalanta crashed 2-0 to Hellas Verona as they slipped to ninth in Serie A, six points off top spot.
Miguel Veloso put Verona ahead from the penalty spot after an hour with Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini limping off minutes later.
Mattia Zaccagni fired in the second seven minutes from time as Verona move sixth after their fourth win of the season.
A minute’s silence was observed before all games in memory of Diego Maradona with a photo of the former Argentina and Napoli star projected on giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020