Juventus held by modest Benevento after resting Ronaldo

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BENEVENTO, Italy (Reuters) - Serie A titleholders Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw away to promoted side Benevento on Saturday, their fifth draw in nine league games this season, after resting their talismanic forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Alvaro Morata gave Juventus a 21st-minute lead but was sent off as tempers flared at the end of a niggly second half. Gaetano Letizia rifled in Benevento's equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

Juve's performance raised more questions about the team's dependence on 35-year-old Ronaldo who is their leading scorer in Serie A with eight goals despite having played only five matches.

Although they are still unbeaten in Serie A, Juve have yet to win a league game this season without Ronaldo and their performances have been laboured.

The Turin side are fifth with 17 points, three behind leaders AC Milan who are at home to Fiorentina on Sunday. Benevento are in midtable with 10 points.

Former Italy and AC Milan team mates Filippo Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo, coaches of Benevento and Juventus respectively, faced each other on the touchline for the first time.

As with all the other Serie A games at the weekend, there was a minute's silence for Diego Maradona, who died aged 60 on Wednesday, and play was stopped for a tribute to the great Argentine in the tenth minute.

Federico Chiesa set up Juve's goal with a majestic cross-field pass to release Morata and the Spaniard glided past his mark and scored with an angled shot which went in off the post.

Paulo Dybala should have added a second but curled his shot wide before Benevento grabbed their surprise equaliser three minutes into first-half stoppage time.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a brilliant save to deny Pasquale Schiattarella but the resulting corner was poorly cleared by Arthur and the ball fell perfectly for Letizia to rifle into the net.

Juventus had more possession in the second half but did little with it, while Benevento looked dangerous when they broke forward.

Benevento had six players booked and Juventus one in the second half before Morata lost his cool and was dismissed.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Fallon)