(Reuters) - Juventus dropped points for just the second time this season in Serie A when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Lecce on Saturday.
Paulo Dybala’s penalty put the champions in front early in the second half but Lecce captain Marco Mancosu quickly replied with a spot kick of his own.
Juventus, who remain unbeaten in the league under Maurizio Sarri, came into the game on the back of a seven-match winning run in all competitions.
They struggled to find a breakthrough against the spirited hosts in the absence of rested star man Cristiano Ronaldo, but Sarri said he had been right to leave the forward at home.
“Ronaldo was tired both physically and mentally, so it wouldn’t have helped him to make this journey and sit there,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“When a player expresses his fatigue, it was only right to give him a rest.”
It was only the second time this season that the Turin club had failed to win a league match, after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Fiorentina in September, while Lecce earned their first home point of the campaign.
Juventus remain top on 23 points after second-placed Inter blew the chance to go top when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Parma to remain one point behind the leaders.
“The fact remains, we created 10 scoring opportunities and didn’t finish them,” Sarri added.
“I think we took it a bit easy in our finishing and after we took the lead, acting almost as if it was natural we would win.”
Juventus thought they were in front after 17 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain turned in an Alex Sandro cross-shot, but the Argentina international was flagged for offside.
The visitors broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half, when Dybala fired home a penalty after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review showed Miralem Pjanic had been brought down just inside the box.
Lecce needed just six minutes to draw level, Matthijs de Ligt’s handball inside the area giving Mancosu the opportunity to calmly send goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way.
Juventus forward Federico Bernardeschi did brilliantly to control a long ball and round the goalkeeper, only to fire his finish off the post.
Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; editing by Clare Fallon