Cristiano Ronaldo stayed at home as Juventus battled to a 1-1 stalemate at lowly Lecce on Saturday, but the defending champions still stay top in Serie A as nearest rivals Inter Milan drew 2-2 with Parma.
Both goals in Lecce came from penalties with Paulo Dybala’s strike from the spot after 50 minutes canceled out by Marco Mancosu’s six minutes later as the promoted southerners grabbed their first point at home this season.
Unbeaten Juventus have 23 points from nine games, one more than Antonio Conte’s Inter, who let the champions off the hook to stay second.
Ronaldo, 34, did not make the trip to the heel of Italy after Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow, and ahead of two Serie A matches in four days next week, and a reverse fixture against the Russians on November 6.
“Ronaldo was tired both physically and mentally, so it would not have helped to make this journey,” said Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri.
“When a player expresses his fatigue, it’s only right to give him a rest.
“Even without him we created ten chances on goal, but weren’t able to finish them off. We let ourselves be drawn into a dirty game.”
It was a bruising encounter in Puglia.
Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain suffered a nasty knock to his forehead late in the game after colliding with Lecce’s Brazilian goalkeeper Gabriel.
The 31-year-old sat down on the pitch after the game suffering from dizziness and was stretchered off, later receiving stitches to his forehead.
Miralem Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur also suffered knocks.
Dybala, who scored both goals against the Russians last Wednesday, started up front alongside Higuain, with Federico Bernardeschi slotting in just behind the Argentine strike duo.
Sarri rang the changes giving starts to Emre Can and Danilo with Blaise Matuidi and Juan Cuadrado both named on the bench.