VAR dominated proceedings at Stadio Via del Mare as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened Lecce.
After a couple of early warning shots from the hosts, Maurizio Sarri's men began to take a stranglehold on the contest. They came close to breaking the deadlock inside ten minutes as Federico Bernardeschi drove into the area, finding the body of a defender with his blast, before Paulo Dybala was also denied by a last-ditch block.
Juve had two penalty appeals waved away in the first quarter-hour, with Emre Can and Danilo both deemed to have dived by the referee. The German's claim had zero grounding, though replays suggest his Brazilian teammate was unfortunate not to earn a spot-kick.
Those decisions appeared inconsequential as Gonzalo Higuain tapped in at the back-post, latching onto a low drive across the box by Alex Sandro. However, a prolonged VAR check - lasting almost four minutes - revealed the striker had been offside.
Lecce were next to lament the new technology when it spotted a foul from Jacopo Petriccione had been right on the border of the penalty area, Dybala stepping up to rifle home from 12-yards and give his team the lead at the start of the second-half.
It didn't take long for Juventus to remember their distaste for VAR as Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for a handball following a referral. Sarri and his staff did not hide their fury on the touchline, but it failed to put off Marco Mancosu, who sent Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way.
Bernardeschi had been woeful throughout the encounter, with his display summed up by a gilt-edged miss after he'd rounded the goalkeeper. Minutes later, the midfielder striking the upright a wasteful attempt from close-range, with the visitors failing to find another goal thereafter.
Here's our breakdown of the draw.
Starting XI: Gabriel (8*); Meccariello (7), Lucioni (7), Rossettini (6), Calderoni (6); Majer (7), Petriccione (5), Tachtsidis (6); Mancosu (5); Babacar (6), Farias (7).
Substitutes: Lapadula (7), Tabanelli (6), Rispoli (6).
Juventus players were whining over an imaginary penalty I’m crying— Ahmed (@Ahmed__Wagih1) October 26, 2019
What's with Juventus and VAR this season 😢— Kapaichumarimarichopaco (@Blakk_Soulja) October 26, 2019
Key Talking Point
With Cristiano Ronaldo nowhere to be seen in the Juventus squad on Saturday, the Serie A champions were careless with their finishing. They had plenty of half-chances against a club who had not collected a point at home all season, but desperately lacked a clinical edge.
If Sarri's recruits are this reliant on the 33-year-old, they may as well kiss goodbye to their hopes of a first Champions League title since 1996. Stronger sides have proved they can shackle the veteran forward, and it seems his teammates struggle without him carrying them.
Perhaps more worrying for La Vecchia Signora, they've not looked like the best team in Italy this year. That honour belongs to Inter, whose title credentials will have taken a boost in light of their rivals' failure to beat Lecce.
Starting XI: Szczesny (7); Danilo (7), Bonucci (6), de Ligt (5), Sandro (7); Bentancur (6), Pjanic (7), Can (5); Bernardeschi (4); Higuain (5), Dybala (7*).
Substitutes: Khedira (6), Cuadrado (5), Rabiot (6).
STAR MAN - Paulo Dybala
Dybala was certainly in the mood for goals, incessantly testing Gabriel between the Lecce sticks. He may have converted only one of his opportunities, but that was more due to the goalkeeper's brilliance.
The Brazilian made a fabulous fingertip save to push the striker's low finish around the post following an incisive through-ball by Bernardeschi, whilst heroic defending from the Giallorossi backline also kept Dybala from adding to his tally.
Juventus 20 shots 2 on target, Leece 10 shots 5 on target 🎯. Juventus get 11 shots off target smh. The slips ended before it even started.— KALYJAY 🇬🇭🏴🙈 (@gyaigyimii) October 26, 2019
#LecceJuventus 1st half summary:— ⚪️Juventino4life⚫️ (@JuveAddiction) October 26, 2019
⚪️ Frustrating game, again our final play is lacking that killer instinct.
⚫️ Bernardeschi cutting out a poor game again!
⚪️ penalty against dybala went begging not even a VAR sniff!
⚫️ Missing that player running onto the second post!#juventus
Juve have two Serie A fixtures in the coming week as they first take on Genoa on Wednesday night, before they come face-to-face with neighbours Torino on Saturday.
Lecce are also in action in midweek, with the strugglers travelling to Liguria for an away game at Sampdoria. After that, they welcome Sassuolo to Stadio Via del Mare.