Juve extend lead, Napoli and Inter stumble
Substitute Emanuele Giaccherini scored the goal that could go a long way to deciding the destiny of the Serie A title, as Juventus pulled nine points clear at the top with a 1-0 victory over Catania.
Early news that Juve's nearest rivals Napoli were losing 2-0 at Chievo was met with a muted response in Turin as the Bianconeri struggled to break down a resilient Catania side, who harbour ambitions of securing European football.
But Juve head coach Antonio Conte's decision to withdraw misfiring strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic proved to be inspired as the latter's replacement pounced at the death to give the leaders a huge advantage with only 10 games remaining.
Napoli's worrying winless run extended to a seventh game in all competitions as Serie A strugglers Chievo sprung a surprise with a 2-0 victory in Verona.
While the visitors have been on a poor run, they remain second in the table and cannot have anticipated being turned over 2-0 by a side who have taken a solitary point from the previous 15 available to them.
But Chievo have a good record in the fixture and sealed victory in the first half thanks to goals from Boukary Drame and Cyril Thereau, while Edinson Cavani missed a penalty for Napoli.
A week to forget for Inter Milan drew to a close in miserable fashion as Bologna condemned the Nerazzurri to a 1-0 defeat.
Coach Andrea Stramaccioni promised a spirited response to Thursday's 3-0 Europa League reverse at Tottenham, with his pledge to steer Inter closer to Serie A's top three bringing a bumper crowd to the San Siro.
That crowd soon turned nasty as mid-table Bologna dominated from start to finish and Alberto Gilardino's classy volley midway through the second half embarrassed Inter's players into mounting a tame fightback.
Inter slipped into fifth place with AC Milan and the nearest Champions League berth four points away thanks to Fiorentina's 2-0 victory at Lazio.
Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Adam Ljajic took La Viola above the capital club, with both sides were in the hunt for third place in Serie A.
Fiorentina had the fresher ideas and moved a point above their hosts and to within three of AC Milan, although they had much to thank goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano for. The on-loan Palermo keeper made a string of saves in the second half to preserve Vincenzo Montella's side's lead in Rome.
An Amauri hat-trick saw Parma come from behind to snap an eight-game winless streak with a 4-1 win over Torino at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
A run of five defeats from six games had seen European hopefuls Parma tumble down the Serie A table in recent weeks and Roberto Donadoni's men were down in 15th place today, albeit temporarily, when Mario Santana opened the scoring in the 56th minute.
That goal inspired something in a wounded Gialloblu side and Amauri made the most of a mistake from Angelo Ogbonna to level before Nicola Sansone fired Parma ahead with 10 minutes remaining. The floodgates were open and Amauri, who had missed a host of solid chances in the first half, found time to claim to the match-ball with a well-taken double at the death.
Palermo took a huge step towards relegation from Serie A after letting a one-goal lead slip away against relegation rivals Siena, who closed to within two points of safety with a 2-1 victory at the Renzo Barbera.
The two sides went into today's match tied on 21 points and five points shy of 17th-placed Genoa and it seemed that Palermo would leave their opponents behind when Anselmo opened the scoring just before half-time.
But the Sicilians' long wait for a first win since November - a run now stretching over 14 games - continues as goals from Innocent Emeghara and Alessandro Rosina left them staring at a return to the second tier after nine years at the top.
Cagliari striker Victor Ibarbo scored a hat-trick to sink Sampdoria 3-1 in their Serie A clash. The Colombian, who had only scored one league goal this season before the game, struck once before the break and twice after it to earn the hosts a deserved win.
Maxi Lopez pulled one back with a stoppage-time penalty after Luca Rossettini had been sent off, but the Sardinians were already long since home and dry.
Cristian Bucchi made a losing start to his interim role as coach of Pescara with a 2-1 defeat at Atalanta which left the club rooted to the foot of Serie A, five points from safety.
Gaetano D'Agostino gave Pescara the lead in the 24th minute and for a time it looked like the change in coach would have the desired effect, but German Denis levelled from the penalty spot within 10 minutes.
Denis' second early in the second half finished off Pescara and earned the Bergamese side all three points, moving them up to mid-table.