Cristiano Ronaldo unlocked a stunning new career achievement when he netted late on in Juventus' 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.

It meant the Portugal forward became the only player to score at least 15 goals in each of the last 15 seasons in the top five European leagues.

Ronaldo first hit double figures in a league season in 2006-07 when he was a Manchester United player, scoring 17 goals in 34 appearances.

Remarkably Ronaldo, who turns 36 next month, has not dropped below that tally in a full season ever since.

Ronaldo's best league season was the 2014-15 campaign at Real Madrid where he scored an incredible 48 goals in 35 LaLiga games.

His great rival Lionel Messi has managed to reach 15 goals in 12 consecutive seasons at Barcelona since the 2008-09 campaign, and with 11 so far in LaLiga should make it 13 this year.

Ronaldo actually scored his first Serie A goals when Juve beat Sassuolo 2-1 in September 2018, and he has now scored five goals against them in five meetings in the competition following his goal on Sunday.

Ronaldo's value to Juventus is emphasised by their record with and without the Portugal forward.

Juve's win percentage is 72.4 with him which drops down to 46.7 without him, with an average of 2.3 points per game compared to 1.7.

The Bianconeri's average goals scored with Ronaldo on the team is 2.1 per game and drops down to 1.5 when he is absent, and they are better defensively with him involved too, conceding an average 0.9 goals versus 1.1 without him.

Juventus earned a 3-1 win over 10-man Sassuolo as goals from Danilo, Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo kept them in touch with Serie A leaders Milan.

Sassuolo had frustrated the Bianconeri in the first half but their combative approach saw Pedro Obiang sent off moments before half-time.

Danilo put Juve ahead five minutes into the second half with a powerful long-range strike, yet Sassuolo equalised with a fine finish from Gregoire Defrel.

Sassuolo looked on course to take a point but late goals from Ramsey and Ronaldo secured the victory for Andrea Pirlo's side.

Federico Chiesa is a "prototype of a great champion" who can use his performance against Milan as a "starting point" to display his qualities for Juventus, says Andrea Pirlo.

Juve signed forward Chiesa on loan from Fiorentina in October in a move the Serie A champions can make permanent for a reported fee of €50million if certain conditions are met.

A red card on debut against Crotone was part of an inauspicious start to life at the Allianz Stadium for Chiesa, but there has been a marked improvement in recent games.

That culminated in a star showing in Juve's 3-1 win at leaders Milan in midweek, a match in which Chiesa scored twice.

Since the start of last season, Chiesa has been thoroughly impressive against the best teams in the league. In that time, he has had a hand in three goals against Milan (two scored, one assisted) and Atalanta (two scored, one assisted) and also scored in meetings with Inter, Napoli and Lazio.

For Juve this season, he has four goals and three assists from 11 top-flight appearances, while he ranks seventh for the Bianconeri in terms of chances created (15). 

When it comes to 'big chances' created - from which Opta would expect a goal to be scored - only Alvaro Morata (seven) has more than his tally of six, while his passing accuracy is at just over 80 per cent.

For Pirlo, there was never any doubt about Chiesa's talent.

"I'm not surprised by Chiesa," he said when previewing Juve's home clash with Sassuolo on Sunday.

"I knew his qualities and I wanted him. He can still improve a lot, he is young, he is a prototype of a great champion. 

"He has to improve himself match after match. San Siro must be a starting point."

In Sassuolo, Juve face a team who have impressed in the first half of the campaign and sit just two points adrift of the top four in sixth place.

Pirlo spoke of his respect for coach Roberto De Zerbi, who like him hails from Brescia.

"Sassuolo are an excellent team, they've been playing together for a while," he added.

"The coach is very good at constructing the game. It will be a difficult match, we can't let them go without pressure from us. 

"I have a good relationship with De Zerbi, he is from Brescia, like me. He has had a good journey; we talk often about football. There are young and good coaches also abroad, everyone follows his own path."

Andrea Pirlo warned the victory over leaders Milan will be "of little use" to Juventus if they fail to defeat Sassuolo on Sunday and says the Rossoneri remain the team to beat in the title race.

Champions Juve ended Milan's 27-match unbeaten run in the Italian top flight with a 3-1 victory at San Siro on Wednesday.

The Turin giants had eased to a ruthless 4-1 win over Udinese in their first match of the year last weekend and an impressive triumph over Milan served as a warning to their rivals.

Juve boss Pirlo stressed the importance of his side maintaining the high standards they have set when they take on a Sassuolo team that are just a point behind them in the table.

The former Italy playmaker said in a media conference on Saturday: "It was an important victory in Milan, at an important moment too, but if we don't win tomorrow, it will be of little use.

"I still consider Milan the team to beat, because they are at the top of the table."

He added: "We take our responsibilities. We have been winning for nine years, it is normal that there is pressure on us. I've asked the team to improve their concentration and mental strength, especially when we take the lead, that is a very important phase.

"We must have the same desire to achieve a result - whoever the opponent is - and then we will see where we are in April."

Matthijs de Ligt became the latest Juve player to test positive for COVID-19 this week, with Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro having missed the win over Milan after contracting the coronavirus.

Pirlo is not feeling sorry for himself after the Netherlands defender joined the list of absentees.

"The positive cases affect us, as they affect anyone. But let's think about moving forward, there are other problems," he said.

"I have four defenders, in addition to [Alessandro] Di Pardo, who can play on the flank. I will choose between them, because we are in the bubble and we cannot summon other players."

Pirlo will be able to call upon Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral at Allianz Stadium this weekend, while Alvaro Morata will be checked on to see if the striker can return from a thigh injury.

Matthijs de Ligt has tested positive for coronavirus, Juventus have confirmed.

Juve were without Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro against Milan on Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 tests and the Netherlands international has also entered self-isolation.

The Bianconeri face Sassuolo on Sunday before taking on Genoa and Inter in the following week.

A club statement read: "Juventus Football Club announces that, during the checks provided for by the protocol in force, Matthijs de Ligt has emerged positive with COVID-19.

"The player has already been placed in self-isolation."

De Ligt missed the start of the 2020-21 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in August but has started 12 straight games in all competitions since returning to action on November 21.

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