Clinical Juve outclass spineless Inter
Champions Juventus tightened their grip on Italy's Serie A on Sunday after outclassing Inter Milan 3-1 to claim deserved bragging rights from the 'Derby d'Italia'.
Inter travelled to Turin hoping to at least replicate their 1-1 draw with Antonio Conte's men in Milan during the opening half of the season.
But Juve, who had scored 16 goals in their five previous league games, flew out the blocks and had created several early goalscoring chances before Stephan Lichsteiner's diving header from Andrea Pirlo's chipped ball gave the hosts a 15th minute lead.
Juve piled on the pressure and only the safe hands of Samir Handanovic kept Inter from conceding more before the break.
Juve doubled their lead only two minutes after the restart thanks to defender Giorgio Chiellini, with an alert Arturo Vidal giving Juve a 3-0 lead on 55 minutes after pouncing on Paul Pogba's rebound.
Inter's efforts in a late but faint fightback were rewarded in the 71st minute when Rolando beat Marco Storari in the Juve goal although it was scant consolation for what was a decidedly mediocre performance from Walter Mazzarri's side.
Mazzarri lamented to Sky Sport Italia: "Overall I can't criticise too much. We knew Juve would come out hard and press us from the start.
"But it was the way we conceded the second goal which hurt us. If we had not conceded that, the game would have developed differently."
Juve's 19th win of the campaign took their lead on Roma to nine points although the Giallorossi's earlier encounter at home to Parma was rained off and has yet to be rescheduled.
In comments to Mediaset Premium, Vidal said: "At the end we suffered a little because Inter lifted their game but we showed how strong we are as a team.
"We have to keep it going like this until the end of the season. We work hard every day and all we think of is playing better."
Conte remarked: "I'm happy with the result but we should have scored more."
Napoli are a distant third, 15 points adrift after a stunning 3-0 collapse at Atalanta, with Fiorentina a further three points off the pace.
Inter have now taken only eight points from their last 10 games and are sixth in the table, 26 points behind Juve and two behind Verona, who occupy the first Europa League qualifying place.
Inter had dominated the weekend transfer headlines with the capture of Hernanes from Lazio.
But neither the Brazilian international midfielder nor Colombian Fredy Guarin -- the subject of a recently botched swap deal involving Juve striker Mirko Vucinic -- were in Mazzarri's starting line-up.
Juve signed Dani Osvaldo from Southampton on Friday and are still waiting on him to reach full match fitness, but on this display he may have a challenge shifting either Carlos Tevez or Fernando Llorente.
Earlier, Argentinian striker German Denis punished Napoli with a brace in an impressive 3-0 home win for Atalanta.
Napoli coach Rafael Benitez refused to blame his tactical choices -- leaving Gonzalo Higuain, among other top players, on the bench -- instead pointing the finger at "three individual errors".
"We wanted to win this game with fresh players, but one error followed another -- that's why we lost 3-0," the Spaniard said. "In short, we gifted them three goals."
Elsewhere, Sergio Almiron scored a late equaliser for basement side Catania in a pulsating game as they fought back to level 3-3 with fellow strugglers Livorno.
Antonio Candreva and Keita Balde scored one apiece for Lazio in a precious 2-0 win away to Chievo which leaves the Verona-based side hovering dangerously above the relegation zone.
City rivals Verona, meanwhile, moved back up among the Europa League places to fifth after a 2-1 win away to relegation candidates Sassuolo.