Milan: Carlos Tevez scored his 16th league goal of the campaign to secure a 1-0 win away to 10-man Catania and help restore Juventus’s 14-point lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday.
Roma had reduced the arrears to Antonio Conte’s pacesetters with a 2-0 win away to Chievo on Saturday.
But Roma’s hopes that Juve would drop points on their trip to Catania were already slim and, after Tevez saw his low strike creep past the outstretched hand of Mariano Andujar on the hour, the Sicilian strugglers suffered a further blow when Gonzalo Bergessio saw red for a foul on defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Rolando Maran’s hosts battled but Juventus were unlucky not to add further goals, with Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, from a free-kick, and Arturo Vidal all testing Andujar in the final stages.
Juventus will meet French side Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals next month and coach Antonio Conte applauded the “maturity” of his side as they took another step towards their third consecutive scudetto under his guidance.
“In the past three years I’ve seen the side mature in every domain, but especially in terms of their tactical awareness,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
“It took that kind of maturity to come out on top in this kind of game.”
Conte added: “We’ve taken another step forward, but compliments to Roma. They’ve having an incredible season, they’re not giving up.”
The champions’ 25th win kept them top on 78 points, 14 ahead of Roma, who have a game in hand, and 20 ahead of Napoli, whose bid for the runners-up spot and the second automatic Champions League place suffered a setback in a 1-0 home defeat to Fiorentina.
After seeing a number of early chances blocked by impressive Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto, the hosts suffered an early blow when Faouzi Ghoulam saw red for a challenge on Marko Bakic.
Rafael Benitez reshuffled but Fiorentina broke the deadlock in the 87th minute when Alessandro Matri drew keeper Pepe Reina out of his goal and set up Manuel Pasqual, who crossed for Joaquin to head into an empty goal at the back post.
A defiant Benitez said he would not comment on the sending-off decision: “There’s no point, it won’t change anything.
“The strongest team out on the pitch was Napoli, even with 10 men. We kept on attacking and looking for a goal throughout the second half.”
But the Spaniard admitted Napoli, whose side face Catania away on Wednesday before hosting Juventus on Sunday, can afford no further slip-ups.
“We’ve got two games coming up and, although Roma have a decent advantage over us, we have to remain focused on our objective.”
Earlier, Atalanta striker Giacomo Bonaventura scored a brace in a 2-1 away win that pushed Inter Milan down to sixth.
Verona’s hopes of a top-five finish, meanwhile, suffered a huge blow in a 5-0 humiliation at Sampdoria, whose coach Sinisa Mihajlovic turned poetic to describe what it meant to topple Andrea Mandorlini’s visitors.
In a veiled reference to William Shakespeare’s Verona-based lovers Romeo and Juliet, Mihajlovic quipped: “We’ve thrown Juliet from the balcony. But she’s not too hurt. They [Verona] still have 40 points.
“Mathematically, we’re not safe from relegation but virtually we are.”
After Inter’s slip-up, Lazio welcomed an ailing AC Milan looking to creep closer to the Europa League places but dropped two precious points in a 1-1 draw.
Kaka helped open the scoring in the 43rd minute when he toyed with the Lazio defence to the left of goal before hitting a shot that deflected off Abdoulay Konko to beat Etrit Berisha in the hosts’ net.
Lazio levelled just after the hour, when Uruguayan Alvaro Gonzalez got on the end of Lucas Biglia’s nod-on into the box to head past Marco Amelia from close range.