Juventus threw down the gauntlet to their title rivals after extending their lead at the Serie A summit with a 1-0 win over Sassuolo at the Juventus Stadium on Friday night.
Paulo Dybala’s first-half strike was all that separated the two teams in Turin as Juve avenged the 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Neroverdi earlier this season.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side moved six points clear at the top of the standings ahead of the weekend fixtures, while the Modena outfit saw their five-match unbeaten run come to an end.
The hosts almost made a flying start when Dybala was presented with an opportunity in the opening minute of the match, but his shot was saved by Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro failed to take their respective chances in the next 16 minutes, the latter coming closest when his header at the back post was stopped by the feet of Consigli.
The Bianconeri were almost made to pay for their wastefulness moments later when Alfred Duncan fired wide from a good position inside the area for the visitors after being played in by Sime Vrsaljko.
Sami Khedira then squandered a guilt-edged chance as he turned the ball over from just three yards out following good work by Dybala to tee the midfielder up.
But the defending league champions finally breached the opposition goal on 36 minutes, with Dybala curling the ball into the far corner in off the post from the edge of the area following a strong run from Cuadrado on the right to set up the striker.
The visitors looked to respond before half-time, but the closest they got was an effort from Diego Falcinelli that he pushed wide of the target from 20 yards out.
Juve had chances to extend their lead in the second half, but Sandro and Cuadrado both failed to test Consigli, who was eventually called into action to keep out Paul Pogba at close range before denying Alvaro Morata at his near post.