Juventus suffered a second successive Serie A defeat as Gregoire Defrel’s fine finish saw Sassuolo win 1-0 on Sunday.
Three days on from beating Sporting CP 1-0 in the Europa League, Juve turned in a tired display at Mapei Stadium, as Sassuolo dented the Bianconeri’s Champions League qualification hopes.
Defrel’s 64th-minute goal had been coming, with Massimiliano Allegri’s team having lived a charmed life at the back while offering little going forward.
Juve found some spark late on, with Adrien Rabiot denied by Andrea Consigli and Angel Di Maria squandering a golden chance, but Sassuolo held firm to beat Juve at home in the league for the first time since October 2015.
Sassuolo carved out the only chance of a muted first half, but Nedim Bajrami failed to keep his shot down from a tight angle.
Danilo should have done better with a near-post header shortly after the restart, though Juve needed stand-in goalkeeper Mattia Perin to thwart Sassuolo soon after.
Having tipped a curling Maxime Lopez shot wide, Perin pulled off a fantastic save from Defrel’s close-range header.
Perin could only stand and watch as Federico Gatti headed against the woodwork just after the hour, Juve coming away unscathed after the defender’s awful attempt at a clearance.
Yet the pressure eventually told – Defrel arrowing in a brilliant finish on the spin after Nicolo Fagioli’s dreadful clearance fell his way.
Juve finally sparked into life, with Rabiot’s header forcing Consigli into a superb save before substitute Di Maria blazed over as the visitors’ comeback attempts proved fruitless, with Paul Pogba’s late cameo from the bench unable to inspire an equaliser.
What does it mean? More Juve misery on the road
That is now three defeats in four Serie A away games for Juve, though the other two had come against highflyers Lazio and Roma.
Allegri’s team mustered 14 shots and 1.1 expected goals – level with their hosts’ xG – but hardly threatened up until a late flurry.
The defeat leaves Juve in seventh, nine points adrift of fourth-placed Milan with eight games to play, and it looks like their best route to the Champions League will be going for glory in the Europa League.
50 – Gregoire #Defrel is the 4th French player to score 50 goals in Serie A, after David Trezeguet (123), Michel Platini (68) and Cyril Théréau (66). Élite.#SassuoloJuventus @SassuoloUS #SerieA
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 16, 2023
Defrel hits his half-century
Andrea Pinamonti managed only 10 touches and failed to have a shot in the first half, but his replacement Defrel made the difference.
Defrel’s goal was only his second in Serie A this season, but brought up his 50th in the competition. He is the fourth French player to reach that landmark in Italy’s top tier, after David Trezeguet (123), Michel Platini (68) and Cyril Thereau (66). Quite an illustrious list.
Tearful Fagioli at fault
Midfielder Fagioli has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Juve, but just quite what he was thinking with his lazy prod at the ball in the lead-up to Defrel’s winner, only he will know.
The 22-year-old was immediately taken off in a ruthless move by Allegri, and was in tears on the bench.
Juve head to Lisbon to face Sporting on Thursday, before hosting runaway Serie A leaders Napoli three days later.
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