By Terry Daley
ROME, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Juventus will end 2013 five points clear at the top of Serie A after a 4-1 victory at Atalanta stretched their winning league run to nine games on Sunday.
AS Roma remain their closest pursuers as they closed their year with a 4-0 crushing of bottom club Catania with two goals coming from defender Mehdi Benatia.
Carlos Tevez's 11th league goal of the season after six minutes and goals from Paul Pogba, Fernando Llorente and Arturo Vidal tightened Antonio Conte's side's grip on top spot with 46 points from 17 games.
Roma, still unbeaten, have 41 points after they dispatched the Sicilians with goals also coming from Mattia Destro, his third in as many games, and Gervinho.
"The first half wasn't very good but the second half was stellar. The second half is how I always want to see Roma," said Roma coach Rudi Garcia.
"Fourty-one points after 17 games is extraordinary, any other year we would be top. But this year there is a Juve that wins every game."
Giuseppe Rossi's 14th league goal of the season helped Fiorentina scrape a nervy 1-0 win at lowly Sassuolo and move up to 33 points in fourth place, three points behind Napoli.
Hellas Verona hammered struggling Lazio 4-1 through a Luca Toni brace and further goals from Romulo and Juan Iturbe.
They moved into fifth place on 29 points, one ahead of Inter Milan, who contest the Milan derby later on Sunday (1945 GMT).
Sampdoria continued their unbeaten run under new manager Sinisa Mihajlovic with a 1-1 draw, while Torino moved three points behind Inter with a 4-1 hammering of Chievo.
Juve were ahead after six minutes as Tevez collected Arturo's Vidal's misplaced pass and fired home.
Maxi Moralez struck a shock equaliser nine minutes later, drilling a low first time drive off the post and past Gianluigi Buffon, the first goal he had conceded in nine league games.
The champions remained on top, however, and Pogba put them back in front after the break, calmly slotting home after Llorente touched down Kwadwo Asamoah's cross.
Llorente removed any doubt as to the outcome when he took Giorgio Chiellini's pass with his back to goal and brilliantly worked a shooting position before firing home.
A long-range strike from Alessandro Diamanti helped struggling Bologna beat Genoa 1-0 and move out of the relegation zone, relieving some of the pressure on manager Stefano Pioli.
According to local media reports, Bologna chairman Albano Guaraldi wants Italy great Roberto Baggio to replace Pioli, who received a huge show of support from home fans.
However his position as coach is still uncertain. (Reporting by Terry Daley; Editing by Martyn Herman)
- Sports & Recreation
- Fernando Llorente
- Carlos Tevez
- Paul Pogba
- Arturo Vidal