De Zerbi: Sassuolo deserved the win; Verona could've won too
However hard battled, it was an exceptionally engaging match at the Mapei Stadium, as the Neroverdi were twice fixed back to a draw before Junior Hamed Traore's decisive strike.
"I think we deserved to win. It's true we made some adjustments, such as sitting a little deeper, because we respect Verona and didn't want to press them high with the risk of sparking their intensity," De Zerbi told Sky Sport Italia.
"We could've been more than a goal up at half-time, but Verona cause problems for everyone and they never back down."
Verona manager Ivan Juric insisted his side controlled the game and could've won it before the late Sassuolo goal.
"I am honest and say that when it was 2-2, we could well have lost. We could also have been 2-0 up at the break and conceded a goal entirely against the run of play, it came out of nowhere. It's Verona, you can lose any match against Verona."
Hellas were in offside position multiple times during the match due to Sassuolo moving the line with greater solidarity.
"My defenders are of a high level. Because I always ask them to play out from the back, people forget they ought to primarily be defenders and so need to focus on making the tackles and timing the runs too.
"I added a fifth defender today because Kevin Lasagna's pace can hurt anyone, so it was right to provide some extra coverage."
Sassuolo jumped Verona in the Serie A table and still have a game in hand, so how high would they be able to go?
"I think if we confirm our status in eighth place, that is already a fantastic result. Unless someone in the top seven slips up, we'll struggle to catch them, especially as so many of them have gone out of Europe.
"If we want to do something more, we need to notch up a run of wins and be ready for the final sprint."
De Zerbi was quizzed as to whether there is a friendly contention with Hellas boss Juric, as they are regularly referenced for similar future positions.
"I admire him because he has a specific identity in his football and I know how difficult that is. I said Verona over the last two years have perhaps even done better than Sassuolo, because this club was already a regular in Serie A when I arrived and Verona were newly-promoted.
"We have different views on how to go about things, but we've had a good response with our results and that is what matters."