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Dec 16, 2012

Juve sinks Atalanta, widens Italian lead

Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A with a comfortable victory over 10-man Atalanta.

Defending champion Juventus strolled to a 3-0 win over 10-man Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday, scoring the opening goal after just 80 seconds.

Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio all scored before Thomas Manfredini was sent off after picking up a second yellow card, leaving Atalanta with 10 men for nearly an hour.

"It was a really good performance by us, with the right approach, against a team which has shown it can be giant killers, having won against AC Milan, Napoli and Inter Milan," Juventus coach Antonio Conte said.

"We did well to put pressure on them from the start and impose our game. We should never lose our hunger, not now, not ever."

AC Milan also got off to a fast start on its way to a 4-1 victory at home to Pescara as Antonio Nocerino netted after 35 seconds. Pescara scored two own goals before Stephan El Shaarawy capped Milan's celebrations of the 113th anniversary of its founding.

Juventus is now seven points clear of second-place Inter Milan at the top of the standings and eight ahead of Napoli, which surprisingly lost 3-2 at home to struggling Bologna after conceding two late goals in as many minutes.

Juventus hadn't lost at home to Atalanta since 1989 and it was clear early on that the streak would continue.

Vucinic raced onto Sebastian Giovinco's pass and into the area before firing across goal, into the bottom right corner.

Atalanta should have leveled immediately when German Denis took advantage of a Luca Marrone error and raced through one-on-one with Gianluigi Buffon, but the Juventus goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant save.

Juventus doubled its lead in the 14th minute when Pirlo curled a stunning 30-yard free kick into the top left corner, giving Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli no chance.

Claudio Marchisio rifled in a third from the edge of the area before Manfredini picked up two yellow cards in a minute and was dismissed.

In Naples, Bologna took a shock lead against the run of play when an unmarked Manolo Gabbiadini turned in Niccolo Cherubin's cross in the 10th minute.

Bologna should have doubled its lead, but Alberto Gilardino's header was wrongly flagged offside and Napoli came back after the break with goals from Alessandro Gamberini and Edinson Cavani.

However, Panagiotis Kone leveled for Napoli with an acrobatic scissor kick, which could prove to be the goal of the season. But Bologna captain Daniele Portanova, in his first game back following a four-month ban for his part in the match-fixing scandal, scored the winner three minutes later to inflict Napoli's first home loss of the campaign.

There was a festive atmosphere at San Siro as Milan celebrated its anniversary. And it had an early goal when Nocerino slotted home Stephan El Shaarawy's cross from five yards.

It took until the 51st minute for Milan to double its lead, however. The Rossoneri were given an early Christmas present when Pescara striker Elvis Abbruscato headed in Robinho's corner.

Pescara grabbed one back five minutes later as Christian Terlizzi was left unmarked to head home Romulo Togni's free kick.

It almost leveled shortly afterward but Antonio Balzano sent a long-range effort crashing off the post.

Pescara then scored another own goal when Jonathas headed in El Shaarawy's corner, before the young striker scored his 14th league goal of the season.

Pescara remains in 18th place, three points above bottom club Siena which was crushed 4-1 by Fiorentina in the Tuscan derby.

Luca Toni headed Fiorentina in front in the 15th minute and won a penalty three minutes later when he was held back by Felipe.

Gianluca Pegolo got a hand to David Pizarro's penalty but could not stop it.

Fiorentina leapfrogged Roma into fifth place after the capital side lost 1-0 at Chievo Verona. Sergio Pellissier scored three minutes from time, in thick fog, to end Roma's run of four league wins.

Genoa is a point behind Pescara after drawing 1-1 at home to Torino. Andreas Granqvist leveled after Rolando Bianchi had headed Torino in front.

Elsewhere, Parma came from behind to beat Cagliari 4-1.

Ishak Belfodil scored twice, either side of a goal from Jonathan Biabiany and a penalty from Jaime Valdes, after Marco Sau had given Cagliari the lead.

Catania also came from behind to win 3-1 at home to Sampdoria, with goals from Argentines Mario Paglialunga, Gonzalo Bergessio and Lucas Castro. Enzo Maresca scored from the spot for Samp.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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