Juventus 1-0 Sassuolo: Paulo Dybala extends Serie A lead
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 11/03/16 10:34pm
Paulo Dybala's superb first-half strike sent Juventus six points clear at the top of Serie A after a 1-0 home victory over Sassuolo.
The Argentina international scored his 14th league goal of the season to help the Old Lady edge further ahead of second-placed Napoli, who face Palermo on Sunday.
It was also a significant night for Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who kept his 10th successive Serie A clean sheet to move within four minutes of breaking Sebastiano Rossi's all-time record.
Former Milan stopper Rossi went 929 minutes without conceding a goal in Italy's top flight in the early 1990s and Buffon will have one eye on bettering that in the opening stages of Juventus' next Serie A clash, against Torino next Sunday.
The leaders, who have now won 18 of their last 19 games in the league, made a bright start with Dybala testing Sassuolo keeper Andrea Consigli within the first 60 seconds.
The Old Lady continued to probe as Mario Mandzukic, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado all wasted half-chances in the opening 15 minutes.
Sandro got another sight of goal on 17 minutes with a free header at the back post from Dybala's free-kick that was well saved by the feet of the alert Consigli.
Sassuolo, though, should have opened the scoring themselves moments later. A cutback from Sime Vrsaljko played in Alfred Duncan, who dragged a glorious chance wide with his left foot when well-placed in the centre of the box.
Back came Juventus and Dybala, who was at the centre of most good things for the hosts. The forward somehow poked the ball back from the byline to the onrushing Sami Khedira who managed to spoon the ball over from three yards.
Dybala had gone four Serie A games without a goal but he put an end to that in emphatic style on 36 minutes.
Cuadrado did the leg work down the right - skipping his way past Francisco Acerbi, who slipped in trying to stop the Colombia winger - and there was nothing Consigli could do to stop Dybala's left-footed effort curling into the far corner, via the post, from the edge of the box.
Diego Falcinelli also lined up a left-footed effort as the half drew to a close but the Sassuolo striker lacked the precision of Dybala and the hosts went into the break a goal to the good.
Chances were limited in the second half as Juventus looked to preserve Buffon's remarkable record and Sassuolo began to gain a foothold.
Sandro wasted the best of the early second-half opportunities for the hosts and Cuadrado should have done better than to scuff his left-footed shot into a packed visiting defence after a goalmouth scramble.
Paul Pogba was introduced from the bench on 72 minutes but, almost immediately, Buffon was called into action by Nicola Sansone's right-footed effort from long range.
France international Pogba soon found his feet, though his close-range shot was palmed to safety by Consigli.
Juventus substitute Alvaro Morata was shut out at the near post by Consigli with four minutes remaining while Buffon's record was tested for the final time by Sansone on the break with Italy's number one more than equal to his 20-yard shot.