Juventus maintained their three-point lead at the top thanks to a comfortable 2-1 victory away to Chievo, thanks to well-worked goals by Alessandro Matri and Stephan Lichtsteiner.
The pressure was on the Bianconeri, as last night Napoli joined them on top of the table. Antonio Conte and Leonardo Bonucci began two-match bans for insulting the referee after a 1-1 draw with Genoa, while Mirko Vucinic was also suspended. Claudio Marchisio joined Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Pepe and Nicklas Bendtner on the treatment table after the Coppa Italia semi-final exit to Lazio midweek.
Chievo have upset sides like Roma and Lazio so far this season, but were without Gennaro Sardo, Luciano and Boukary Drame. The Flying Donkeys have beaten Juve only once in 21 games, home and away in all competition, in a 1-0 at the Bentegodi in January 2010.
Juve broke through after just 10 minutes with a wonderful goal. Arturo Vidal chipped up a pass for Alessandro Matri’s precise left-foot volley across Cristian Puggioni.
Alberto Paloschi had one effort charged down and another captured at the near post by Gigi Buffon, while Sebastian Giovinco went on a smart run and pulled his finish across the face of goal from close range.
Andrea Pirlo pulled a free kick to the edge of the box for a fierce Vidal volley that was crucially deflected round the post.
Buffon timed his intervention perfectly, rushing off his line to tackle Paloschi in the box like a seasoned defender. Paolo De Ceglie did enough to put off Paloschi when he tried to finish a Cyril Thereau counter-attack from 10 yards.
Puggioni smothered a Pirlo free kick and Stephan Lichtsteiner forced a save out of Puggioni after his handling offence was not spotted.
Lichtsteiner was on target soon after with a well-worked goal. Giovinco burst forward on the counter, exchanged passes with Matri in the box and then his cheeky backheel flick allowed Lichtsteiner to smash a rising finish into the far top corner from eight yards.
Eugenio Corini introduced two January buys at half-time, Francesco Acerbi and Felipe Seymour. Chievo were more determined after the break and found their way back into the game.
Paloschi knocked down a long pass with his back to goal and Thereau smashed the daisy-cutter into the far bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
Paul Pogba couldn’t quite get good contact on a dangerous Paolo De Ceglie cross, so it was deflected off Dario Dainelli just past the near post for a corner.
Chievo were definitely more in the game in this second half, though Puggioni caught a deflected De Ceglie strike. However, Juventus settled after a period of pressure and took home all three points.