Rome: Juventus coach Antonio Conte hit back at critics after second-half goals from Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio secured a 2-0 win at Bologna that allowed the Turin giants to move 12 points clear at the top of Serie A.
Bologna, beaten only three times this year and coming off the back of a 1-0 win over Inter at the San Siro last week, had hoped to continue their purple patch at a sold-out Stadio dell’Ara.
But, a week ahead of a break for international duty, Juventus turned on the class to secure a 20th win of the season that most pundits believe is enough to secure their 29th league title.
Conte later came under criticism for what Bologna believed were over-the-top celebrations on the part of the Juve coach. But Conte hit back, instead criticising the hostile welcome his club received on their arrival in Bologna.
“Can’t I even celebrate with the fans after such a victory? I know it might annoy some people when we win but there was no disrespect,” he said.
“And let’s discuss more serious matters — people who welcomed us with stones and sticks, people with children in their arms shouting obscenities.
“These people should be ashamed, not me. If we’re leading the Scudetto race I don’t see why I should not celebrate with my fans.”
Conte, however, says nothing is won yet.
“We’ve taken an important step forward but there are still 27 points available and we have to keep going,” he said.
“We deserve to be in this position but we have to keep our feet on the accelerator.”
The pressure is now on Napoli, who host Atalanta on Sunday with one eye on third-placed AC Milan, who are a further two points adrift, as they take aim at grabbing three points at home against a struggling Palermo.
Juventus coach Antonio Conte had warned of the threat of an “excellent” Bologna side coming into this game, and defender Giorgio Chiellini deflected an Alessandro Diamanti strike over goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s crossbar early on.
Juve replied, but when Federico Peluso, given a rare start in place of Swiss Stephan Lichsteiner, set up Sebastian Giovinco the little striker’s weak effort was blocked.
Bologna goalkeeper Gianluca Curci then did well to keep out Vucinic’s effort after some good individual work from Simone Padoin, called up in preference of Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah.
After a missed effort by Juve forward Arturo Vidal, preferred by Conte to Frenchman Paul Pogba, early in the second period Bologna striker Alberto Gilardino had his headed goal from Alessandro Diamanti’s free-kick chalked off for offside.
Juve finally took the lead when Vucinic ran on to a through ball from Marchisio and danced round Brazilian defender Naldo to beat Curci.
Bologna came close when a Saphir Taider effort was blocked and then Gabbiadini sent an effort wide.
Those misses proved costly when Vucinic returned the favour to Marchisio on 73 minutes, setting up the midfielder to beat Curci with the outside of his right foot from close in.
In Saturday’s early match Alejandro Gomez scored a brace as Catania secured a deserved 3-1 win over Udinese which moved the Sicilians up to seventh place.