Veteran forward Alessandro Del Piero bagged his 250th Juventus goal as the Turin giants climbed up to second in the Serie A table with a 4-0 victory over Reggina in snowy Turin on Saturday.
It was a sixth win in seven league games for Juve, with 34-year-old Del Piero’s landmark goal coming from the penalty spot following strikes from Mauro Camoranesi, Amauri and Giorgio Chiellini.
The victory moved Juventus above AC Milan on goal difference, just three points behind leaders and champions Inter.
Juve coach Claudio Ranieri was coy on challenging for the title despite having banished last week’s 1-0 defeat at Inter from memory.
“It wasn’t easy, they pressed a lot. They have a lot of ability, they’re a very good group,” he said of woeful Reggina. “They play close together and are very dangerous on the counterattack, but the important thing was to upset their balance and we did that. Inter should win the title, while we should improve on last season’s finish [third]. We are more cohesive and have a year of work behind us and the new players have slipped well into the team.”
The heavy defeat was the fifth time in eight away matches this season that Reggina have lost by at least three goals and it leaves them with by far the worst defensive record of the 20-team division.
Center-back Chiellini and the evergreen Del Piero had both gone close for the hosts before Camoranesi gave them the lead on 28 minutes.
Del Piero sent Czech veteran Pavel Nedved free down the inside left channel and he drew goalkeeper Andrea Campagnolo before pulling the ball back for the Argentine-born Italy midfielder to slot home.
Reggina almost responded immediately as defender Santos flicked a Franco Brienza free-kick onto the bar with Alex Manninger a helpless spectator in the Juve goal.
Three minutes from the break, though, Campagnolo saved his team by tipping a firm drive from Nedved over the bar when the winger looked certain to score.
But the visitors, who sit third bottom, didn’t hold out for much longer as Brazilian forward Amauri held off two defenders under a high ball in the area, which then bounced kindly for him to fire home low to Campagnolo’s left.
Chiellini added the third with his head from close range 17 minutes into the second half as Reggina’s defense stopped and watched Marco Marchionni’s deep free-kick.
Brienza had the ball in the net direct from a quickly taken free-kick midway through the half as Juve were forming their wall, but the referee disallowed the goal because he wasn’t ready either.
Del Piero added the fourth on 74 minutes from the penalty spot after substitute Sebastian Giovinco had gone down very easily under a challenge from Bruno Cirillo to round off Reggina’s night of misery.
In the early match, Catania failed to move level on points with fourth-placed Napoli after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Lecce.
The Sicilian hosts took the lead just after the hour mark as young star Michele Paolucci’s shot was deflected in.
But the visitors earned the point that edges them further away from the drop zone when Argentine substitute Jose Ignacio Castillo crashed home a shot from distance eight minutes later.