MILAN: Goals from Paul Pogba, Sebastian Giovinco, Stephan Lichsteiner eased Juventus to a 3-0 home win over Siena and a seven-point lead on idle Serie A title challengers Napoli yesterday.
Third-placed AC Milan are now 13 points adrift with even more importance on the San Siro derby against Inter Milan, a further point back, set for later on Sunday.
Napoli and fourth-placed Lazio play their respective matches today, which handed Juventus the perfect opportunity to distance their title rivals against a Siena side fighting for its Serie A survival.
Swiss international defender Lichsteiner was on form throughout the day and came close to beating Gianluca Pegolo with a strike, which shaved the post in the first half.
Lichsteiner finally got lucky when an angled cross from Andrea Pirlo was parried by Pegolo and the ball bounced off the Swiss and into the net on the half hour.
Siena had few real chances in the match and Italy forward Giovinco virtually put the match beyond reach in the 74th minute when he pounced on the rebound from Pirlo’s free kick to double Juve’s lead.
Frenchman Pogba put the icing on Juve’s performance by toying with the Siena defense on the edge of the area before unleashing a low strike, which beat Pegolo at his far post.
Juventus’s 18th win in 26 games leaves Antonio Conte’s side in control at the top of Serie A with a seven point cushion on Napoli who travel to Udinese today and 14 in front of both AC Milan and Lazio.
Fiorentina’s hopes of moving up from sixth place were put on hold after their match at home to Bologna was postponed due to heavy snow.
Barca stretches lead
In Marid, Barcelona stretched their advantage at the top of La Liga to 15 points as two goals in eight minutes just before the hour mark from David Villa and Lionel Messi handed them a 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday.
The Catalans, who slumped to a shock Champions League loss at AC Milan in midweek, had to come from behind after Alberto Botia headed the visitors into a 42nd minute lead. Barca star Javier Mascherano said it was important to get the equalizer quickly after the break.
Barca now face a huge Spanish Cup semifinal second leg with Real Madrid on Tuesday with the tie finely balanced a 1-1 and Mascherano believes home advantage and an away goal gives them the upper hand.
Real Madrid also had to come from behind to win 2-1 at relegation threatened Deportivo La Coruna thanks to second-half goals from Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain.
Riki had fired in at Diego Lopez’s near post to give the hosts a deserved lead on 31 minutes.
However, Deportivo were left to rue missing a number of chances to extend their advantage when Kaka equalized with a fine curling effort 17 minutes from time and Higuain sealed the comeback 15 minutes later with an easy finish after brilliant build-up play from Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho had made his intentions clear ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Barcelona as he left Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira on the bench in a side that included seven changes from last weekend’s 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.
Valencia moved into fifth place as they came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Real Zaragoza thanks to two goals from Jonas.
Mallorca meanwhile remain rooted in the bottom three as they conceded three times in the final 19 minutes to lose 3-1 at home to Getafe.