A late double from Gonzalo Higuain helped Juventus come from behind to beat Atalanta 3-1 in Bergamo on Saturday and go four points clear at the top of the Serie A standings.
Robin Gosens gave the home side a deserved lead in the second half after Musa Barrow missed a penalty before the break.
But Higuain struck twice in the final 16 minutes to turn the game on its head before Paulo Dybala sealed the points with a late strike.
“We lost our heads after the penalty, thinking of everything except the game of football and allowed Atalanta to take total control,” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri told Sky Italia.
“They deservedly went in front. We were fortunate to score the equaliser in a chaotic move against the run of play and from there on showed belief we could win it.”
They got the job done in his absence, however, to move on to 35 points at the top, although second-placed Inter Milan can move one point behind Juventus by beating Torino later on Saturday.
“I hope Ronaldo will be back for the Champions League on Tuesday,” Sarri added.
“He has this little problem that is above all affecting him in training, as he’s struggling to train consistently. A lot depends on how he feels, the fatigue and the need he has at any moment to rest.”
Atalanta are sixth on 22 points and have now gone four games without a league win.
Ronaldo’s absence dominated the headlines before the game, but Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini had issues of his own, with star striker Duvan Zapata injured and Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskiy missing out through suspension.
The hosts coped admirably in the absence of key men during a strong first half and had a golden chance to go in front from the penalty spot following a Sami Khedira handball, only for Barrow to smash his spot-kick off the bar.
Atalanta found the breakthrough they deserved after 56 minutes, when Gosens rose to head Barrow’s cross in from close range.
But Higuain drew Juventus level when his shot took a fortuitous deflection off a defender to wrong-foot the goalkeeper with little over quarter of an hour remaining.
Higuain swept in a finish from Juan Cuadrado’s low cross to put Juve in front eight minutes later, but the Atalanta players were furious that an apparent handball from the Colombian in the build-up went unpunished.
Atalanta pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but Juve made sure of the three points with an incisive counter-attack in stoppage time, as Higuain set up Dybala to drill a pinpoint finish in at the near post.
Bayern demolish Duesseldorf, Gladbach slip up at Union
Bayern Munich crushed hosts Fortuna Duesseldorf 4-0 on Saturday to climb to within a point of the top with their third straight win under interim coach Hansi Flick while Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach suffered a shock loss at Union Berlin.
The champions have rediscovered their winning ways under Flick, getting three victories in all competitions, and they looked sharp throughout the match in which top striker Robert Lewandowski failed to score, ending his record run of netting in the previous 11 league games.
Bayern, who could have scored several more goals, found no resistance in the first half and had fired in three by the 34th minute through Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry.
Although Lewandowski failed to score despite several golden chances, he did set up Philippe Coutinho for Bayern’s fourth goal in the 70th minute.
Bayern, eyeing a record-extending eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, moved up to 24 points, one behind Gladbach who were stunned 2-0 by promoted Union for their first league loss after three straight wins.
Union took the lead in the 15th through Anthony Ujah and completed a memorable win with Sebastian Andersson’s second-half stoppage time goal for their third straight victory which lifted them to 11th on 16 points.
Freiburg moved into third place on 22 with a 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen and stayed ahead on goal difference of Schalke 04, winners 2-1 at Werder Bremen. RB Leipzig on 21, take on Cologne later on Saturday.