Juventus stretched their lead at the top of Serie A to 12 points with a comfortable 2-0 win at Bologna thanks to second-half goals by Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio on Saturday.
A smart Vucinic strike past the hour and a superb Marchisio goal in the 74th minute saw the reigning champions beat a Bologna side who had won three in a row, including victories over Champions League-chasing ACF Fiorentina and Inter.
The win takes Antonio Conte’s team on to 65 points and it put more pressure on second-placed SSC Napoli to beat visiting Atalanta BC yesterday as they attempted to keep the title race alive.
Bologna have slipped to 12th on 35 points.
“There are still some important games to play, but tonight we sent out a signal and it was a match that was worth more than just the three points,” Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon said. “Every time you win a game means there are fewer games left and therefore the points mean more.”
Bologna started brightly and could have taken an early lead when Alberto Gilardino was sent through by Alessandro Diamante’s fine pass.
The striker, with 11 goals this season, tried to skip round the onrushing Buffon and, although the goalkeeper timed his tackle perfectly, the ball dropped to Diamante, whose long-range shot was heading for goal until it hit Giorgio Chiellini’s back.
However, Juve slowly took control of the game and were unlucky not to be leading at the break.
Sebastian Giovinco had their best chance after 18 minutes when he broke free from two defenders in the area, only to scuff a weak shot straight at goalkeeper Gianluca Curci.
A minute later, Arturo Vidal skied his left-footed shot after being set up brilliantly by Vucinic.
Gilardino thought he had given Bologna an undeserved lead six minutes into the second half when he headed home Diamante’s free-kick, only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised.
Juve midfielder Giovinco’s fine approach play two minutes later saw him work a good shooting position and Curci did well to tip his shot over the bar.
Vucinic made up for his side’s mainly wayward shooting in the 62nd minute, receiving Marchisio’s pass on the edge of the area and brilliantly spinning Edinaldo Naldo, before squeezing his finish between Curci’s legs.
Vucinic returned the favor 12 minutes later when Marchisio played a superb one-two with the Montenegrin on the edge of the area, before slotting home with the outside of his right boot.
Earlier, Catania moved within two points of the European places by beating Udinese 3-1 thanks to Alejandro Gomez’s second-half brace and a Francesco Lodi strike.
Rolando Maran’s side are now seventh on 45 points.