Juventus took another step towards the Serie A title after the reigning champions picked up a vital 2-0 victory away to Lazio on Monday.
Arturo Vidal was the hero for the Bianconeri, netting twice in the first half during a routine win that leaves the Turin outfit 11 points clear at the Italian summit with just six matches left.
After crashing out of the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Juventus were keen to put that disappointment behind them and continue their march to the Scudetto in the Italian capital.
Against a Lazio side still in the hunt for a spot in the continental competition, Antonio Conte’s men could not have asked for a better start.
Just seven minutes in, Mirko Vucinic escaped Lorik Cana only to be cut down in the box by a clumsy tackle from the centre-back. There was no doubt about the penalty decision, and Vidal hit it with authority to send Federico Marchetti the wrong way and put his side into the lead.
The goal immediately put the visitors in the ascendancy, as Lazio struggled to contain a vibrant attack throughout the first half.
Michael Ciani came to the rescue of his side to block from Claudio Marchisio after the midfielder latched on to Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross, while Vucinic went close to netting as his toe-poke from a low free-kick forced an instinctive save from Marchetti.
The home side challenged across the pitch, but their offensive efforts lacked clarity and focus and they rarely threatened Gianluigi Buffon between the posts.
Ciani once more saved a second goal when he made a diving intervention to block Vidal’s shot, but Juventus were in control and it seemed just a matter of time before they were back on the scoresheet.
Minutes after that chance, Vucinic’s pass took a somewhat fortunate deflection in the box and, as the Lazio defence hesitated, Vidal took full advantage as he coolly finished past Marchetti.
A more determined Lazio came out for the second 45 minutes, and they nearly pulled one back just after the interval. A looping corner found the net of the stooping Ciani, and Buffon was forced to make an excellent save to keep his clean sheet intact.
Moments later, however, Juve should have put the game beyond doubt with a golden chance.
Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick was saved by Marchetti, but the keeper could not hold on to the ball and it rolled loose with at least three black shirts chasing the rebound. Marchisio arrived first, but misjudged the bounce and off balance, sliced his shot well over to the bar in an awful miss.
After a thrilling start to the second period, the match soon lost its urgency with Juventus taking control, stroking the ball around the park and assuring victory.
The win means Juve move 11 points clear of Napoli at the Serie A summit, and with just six games left to play the title looks almost certain to return to Turin.
Lazio, meanwhile, remain in fifth place, eight points behind AC Milan who currently occupy the final qualifying spot for the Champions League.