Juventus go nine points clear
Last Updated: 02/02/14 9:57pm
Stephan Lichtsteiner celebrates for Juventus
Juventus pulled nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table by punishing traditional rivals Inter Milan in the second Derby d'Italia of the season.
With second-placed Roma left in limbo following the abandonment of their rain-soaked meeting with Parma earlier on Sunday, Juve knew victory over their old foes Inter would give them a significant advantage in the title race.
It did not take Stephan Lichtsteiner long to strike the first blow in the 3-1 win, courtesy of an exquisite assist from Andrea Pirlo, and Giorgio Chiellini made it a real uphill battle for struggling Inter with a goal right after half-time.
When Arturo Vidal added a third, Juve could start celebrating their fifth derby victory from seven recent encounters, with a late consolation goal from Inter defender Rolando doing little to rattle the reigning champions' nerves.
The embarrassment of a derby defeat is the least of Inter's worries. The 2010 treble winners have won just once in their last 10 league games and lie sixth in the table, below even Hellas Verona.
Roared on by a partisan crowd at a sold-out Juventus Stadium, the Bianconeri were always likely to make a strong start and they did, with Carlos Tevez forcing a fine double save from Samir Handanovic within minute.
Rolando had to cut out Pirlo's clever through-ball to Fernando Llorente before the Spanish striker came up just short on Paul Pogba's cross and, in the 15th minute, Lichtsteiner made the breakthrough.
It was the type of pass Juventus fans have been accustomed to seeing from their playmaker Pirlo over recent seasons, but such was the quality and invention on this occasion, it took many by surprise.
After receiving the ball to his feet 20 yards behind the D, Pirlo looked up once before effortlessly picking out Lichtsteiner in space on the edge of the area. The Swiss full-back took two touches and slammed past Handanovic.
Juventus continued to dominate and went close to scoring the second goal through Pogba, who shot just over, and Tevez, who could not find a team-mate to tap home his cute pass into a dangerous area.
Handanovic saved from the Argentinian once more before the break, at the end of a swift counter-attack started by Pogba, but it was Inter who enjoyed the last great chance of the half.
With 41 minutes on the clock, Rodrigo Palacio broke free down the right, bursting into the box but firing high over Marco Storari's bar with the Juve keeper stranded.
Antonio Conte's men clearly dwelled on that defensive lapse over the interval and tightened up in all areas following the restart.
It was a defender, Chiellini, who made it 2-0, at the expense of his hapless Inter counterpart Yuto Nagatomo.
The Japanase centre-back fell over his own feet on the edge of his area and Chiellini wasted no time in sweeping the ball past an irate Handanovic.
Juve could begin celebrating another derby victory before an hour had been played in northern Turin.
The under-siege Handanovic coped admirably to push Pogba's close-range finish away, but there was nothing he do to keep Vidal from tucking home the rebound.
Juve then allowed themselves a breather and were taught a lesson.
An unceremonious scramble in the hosts' box around the 70-minute mark saw Rolando swing a boot at the loose ball, which trickled in to a muted response from all in attendance.
Italy Serie A