Last-gasp Juve, Roma blushes spared
Fernando Llorente struck at the death to both break the tension of a thrilling encounter with Udinese in Turin and fire his club Juventus three points clear of Roma at the top of the Serie A table.
The Sunday night meeting, which somehow ended 1-0, might have been a goalfest if not for remarkable displays of goalkeeping from Gianluigi Buffon and his visiting counterpart Zeljko Brkic.
The veteran Juve shot-stopper was particularly impressive in steering the reigning champions through a sixth league game without conceding a goal.
Brkic stood firm in the final half hour as Antonio Conte's men steadily turned the screw but Spain international Llorente burst his bubble with a header in the first minute of three added on at the Juventus Stadium.
The three points gave Juve a comfortable cushion on previous runaway leaders Roma, who were earlier held in Atalanta. The title rivals meet in the capital city on Jan. 6.
Kevin Strootman scored on the stroke of full-time to save Roma from their first defeat of the Serie A season, but his goal was only good enough to salvage a 1-1 draw at Atalanta as the capital club's title challenge continued to stall.
The Giallorossi won 10 games on the spin to blaze an early trail that left champions Juventus and ambitious Napoli playing catch-up, until their record-breaking streak came to an end with a draw at Torino.
Stalemates against lowly Sassuolo and Cagliari followed before Atalanta threatened to call time on their unbeaten run with a second-half free-kick from Davide Brivio.
Summer signing Strootman would finally get the better of outstanding home goalkeeper Andrea Consigli at the death, sparing Roma's blushes.
Inter Milan were unable to impress new owner Erick Thohir with victory at San Siro as Renan scored at the death to salvage a 1-1 draw for Sampdoria.
The Indonesian billionaire purchased a 70 percent stake in the Milan giants in October, ending oil tycoon Massimo Moratti's long-term tenure as president, but had until this weekend been unable to watch the Nerazzurri in action on home turf.
Fredy Guarin fired the hosts ahead in the 18th minute after some spellbinding dribbling from Ricky Alvarez, but Inter struggled to make their early dominance count and struggled to restrain an enthusiastic Samp side.
Visiting coach Sinisa Mihajlovic - an Inter player for two seasons before working as assistant coach to Roberto Mancini - finally unlocked his former club's defence by throwing on substitute Renan, who spared his club from suffering a fourth defeat in five games with his well-taken equaliser.
Mario Balotelli helped AC Milan to a long-awaited 3-1 victory as they came from behind at Catania on Sunday.
The striker put Milan ahead with a smart finish in the 63rd minute after Riccardo Montolivo had cancelled out Lucas Castro's deflected opener.
A minute after his goal Balotelli was brought down to earn Panagiotis Tachtsidis a straight red card, and Kaka wrapped up a 3-1 win with a fine strike on the counter-attack.
The victory was Milan's second in a matter of days following their 3-0 Champions League win at Celtic, which had ended a seven-match winless run, and will help to further ease the pressure on coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Sassuolo were denied the chance to claim back-to-back Serie A victories for the first time in their history as Cagliari rallied from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Sant'Elia.
The Serie B champions, who were roundly punished throughout their torrid introduction to top-flight football, have since escaped the bottom three with a run of two victories from three games and looked set to win again when Lino Marzorati and Simone Zaza scored during the first half in Sardinia.
The Neroverde are, however, yet to fully shake their naivety at this level and crumbled after the break. Goals from Nene and Marco Sau rescued a 2-2 draw for Cagliari, who would have dropped below their opponents in the table with a second home defeat of the season.
Chievo's shining light Cyril Thereau dazzled the Livorno defence as the home side climbed out of the Serie A relegation zone.
The French forward scored Chievo's second goal and had a hand in the third, turning in a man-of-the-match display in the 3-0 success.
After their win against city rivals Hellas Verona last weekend, Chievo were chasing back-to-back victories for the first time this season, and it came with plenty to spare.