Juventus marched on toward a 29th Serie A title by winning 2-0 at Bologna to extend their lead to 12 points.
Milan: Juventus marched on toward a 29th Serie A title by winning 2-0 at Bologna on Saturday to provisionally extend their lead to 12 points. Juventus broke the deadlock in the 64th minute when Claudio Marchisio set up Mirko Vucinic. The forward, who had his back to goal, swivelled and fired the ball into the net in an almost exact copy of his goal at the same stadium last season.
Vucinic turned provider 10 minutes later, playing a quick one-two with Marchisio, who beat the offside trap to double Juve's advantage. "We're flying, we're doing important things but we have to continue," Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. "We've taken a huge step forwards today, that's without doubt and we have to reach our goal. There are still 27 points available, we're in a deserved position but we'll keep our foot on the gas."
Bologna had won only won one of its past 22 meetings against Juventus but it provided Conte's men with a real scare early on. Alberto Gilardino raced through on goal but goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon rushed out of the area and timed his tackle with his feet to perfection. Gilardino also had a goal rightly ruled out for offside at the start of the second half as Bologna's run of three successive wins came to an end. Bologna has not won four consecutive topflight matches since 1967.
Second-place Napoli hosts Atalanta on Sunday needing a win to keep its slim title hopes alive, with just nine rounds left after this weekend. Conte caused outrage towards the end of the match when he turned to the Juve support screaming "come on", repeatedly raising his arms up and punching the air in celebration. That infuriated the Bologna fans, who began to jeer, as well as opposing coach Stefano Pioli.
"Have respect, you don't do that," Pioli told Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio, before adding afterward to reporters: "Conte's celebration was a little exaggerated, because it incites not only his own fans but also ours." Conte was unapologetic and started to get angry as he spoke after the match. "If I can't even celebrate with my own fans after a victory which is fundamental to achieve our goal, tell me what I should do," he said. "I only celebrated with the Juventus fans. I know that it annoys so many people when we win, but there was no lack of respect at all.
"Let's talk about more serious thing, the people who welcomed us with sticks and stones, the people with kids in their arms who were swearing. It's these people that should be ashamed, not me. I will always celebrate with my fans wherever. If I am winning the title, I don't see why I should not celebrate together with my fans." Earlier, Catania beat injury-hit Udinese 3-1 to boost its chances of qualifying for Europe. Alejandro Gomez gave Catania the lead four minutes after halftime following a smart one-two with Lucas Castro.
The Sicilian side doubled its advantage in the 22nd as Castro forced his way past two defenders before slotting it through for Pablo Barrientos, whose great cross was headed in by Gomez. Free kick specialist Francesco Lodi all but sealed the match four minutes later when his effort was deflected over Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic.
Udinese's Luis Muriel grabbed a consolation 10 minutes from time, weaving his way into the area before unleashing a diagonal shot into the bottom left corner. Catania move provisionally into seventh, four points above nine-place Udinese. Udinese was without the injured Antonio Di Natale, Dusan Basta, Giampiero Pinzi, Andrea Lazzari and Giovanni Pasquale, while Maurizio Domizzi, Maicosuel and Thomas Heurtaux were suspended.