Milan go four clear as Juve are held
AC Milan extended their lead at the top of the Serie A table to four points after easing to a 2-0 win over Lecce at the San Siro.
Antonio Nocerino's early goal set Milan on their way and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed the win midway through the second half with a superb strike as the league leaders took full advantage of Juventus' draw at Genoa to pull further clear at the summit.
Milan dominated throughout after Nocerino's seventh-minute strike put them ahead and the only surprise was that they only added one more goal to their tally against relegation-threatened Lecce.
Juventus' title hopes suffered another blow as they were held to their fourth successive Serie A draw by Genoa in a match that ended 0-0 but in which they had more than enough chances to win.
Simone Pepe had a goal ruled out for a debatable offside decision after also hitting the post, while Mirko Vucinic also struck the woodwork twice as Juve sought to get back to winning ways.
The visitors could find no way through, however, and their 14th draw of the season saw them slip further behind.
A frustrating afternoon might have been even worse for Juve as well, with Genoa also having several good chances to take the points in an exciting, open encounter at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Attilio Tesser made a winning return to the Novara bench as his side defeated high-flying Udinese 1-0 to leave Cesena alone at the bottom of the table.
Tesser was reappointed as Novara coach this week after Emiliano Mondonico was unable to turn around their fortunes, and the fans' favourite managed to inspire the Piedmontese side to their fourth win of the season.
Jeda scored the winning goal in the 16th minute as Novara picked up their first win since beating Inter a month ago to move three points ahead of Cesena at the foot of the table.
Lazio missed a chance to close the gap on second-placed Juventus by falling 3-1 to in-form Bologna. The Roman outfit could have pulled to within one point of Juve but had two men sent off.
Daniele Portanova put Bologna ahead in the 11th minute before Alessandro Diamanti doubled the advantage before the half-hour mark.
Lazio's Francesco Matuzalem was shown a red card for catching Diamanti in the face before the interval.
An own goal from Matteo Rubin in the 56th minute reduced the arrears to one but the hosts had Alvaro Gonzalez sent off two minutes later.
Rene Krhin restored the visitors' two-goal lead 15 minutes into the second half and Bologna remained unbeaten on the road this year.
Despite the loss, Lazio's first league defeat at the Stadio Olimpico since November 16, the Biancoceleste held on to third place and the last Champions League qualifying position.
However, they still face an uphill challenge to avoid relegation, with 11 points still separating them from safety.Catania all but assured their Serie A status with a narrow 1-0 victory over Fiorentina at the Angelo Massimino stadium.
Francesco Lodi struck the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 58th minute to hand the Sicilians their 10th victory this season.
The result has lifted Catania to eighth in the standings, just two points from the 40-point mark, a figure deemed sufficient to avoid relegation. Fiorentina, who were without the team's top scorer Stevan Jovetic through injury, have dropped to 13th place.
Atalanta missed a chance to climb into the top half of the Serie A standings after a 1-1 draw at home to Parma.
Thomas Manfredini spectacularly put Atalanta ahead in the fifth minute but Parma got a deserved equaliser through Gabriel Paletta before the hour mark to clinch a point.
The result leaves Atalanta in 11th place while Parma, winless since February 5, are six points clear of the relegation zone in 16th position.
Luca Ceccarelli's dismissal proved the turning point as strugglers Cesena were deprived of a much-needed result in losing 2-0 to Siena at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi.
The defender was sent off in the 74th minute after bringing down Siena's Emanuele Calaio in the penalty area as he ran clear on goal.
The hosts had dominated up to that point but Franco Brienza followed up Claudio Terzi's missed spot-kick to score and then set up Erjon Bogdani to make it 2-0.