TURIN: Italian champions Juventus moved three points clear at the top of Serie A after a convincing 3-0 victory over title rivals Inter Milan on Sunday.
An own goal from Inters Andres Guglielminpietro and a thundering Pavel Nedved strike gave Juventus a 2-0 advantage at the break and Italy international Mauro Camoranesi completed the misery for Inter when he added a third, seven minutes from time.
The result moves Juventus on to 51 points, with Inter in second place on 48 followed by AC Milan a point behind.
Milan, Juves other main challengers, were forced to come back from three goals down to earn a 3-3 draw against Atalanta at the San Siro.
Inter have not had much fortune against Juventus at the Delle Alpi in recent years it is 10 years since they won in the Derby of Italy in Turin and their night got off to the worst possible start when an own goal from their midfielder Guglielminpietro put Juve ahead in the fourth minute.
Nedved whipped in a free-kick from the left flank which was parried out by Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo but struck Guglielminpietro and ricocheted into the net.
But there was nothing lucky about the second goal that came in the 33rd minute via a classic Nedved drive from 25 metres out after the Inter defence had given him space to turn.
The Czech international, far and away the Man of the Match, then created the third goal seven minutes from the end, bursting down the left flank before finding Argentine-born Italy international Camoranesi who blasted home from inside the area.
It still remains tight at the top of the table but the manner of Juves win, a stark contrast to their 3-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday, was ominous for the chasing Milanese clubs.
Inter, who have not won the scudetto since 1989, were second best in every department and a club that has frequently crumbled under pressure in the recent past, will now need to pick themselves up quickly if they are to maintain their challenge.
Milan will take some heart out of their impressive fightback against Atalanta but they will still view it as two points dropped in the closely contested title race.
The first half hour proved disastrous for the home side. Less than a minute had elapsed when Paolo Maldinis mistimed clearance ended up in his own net to give Atalanta the lead.
Atalanta striker Fausto Rossini then sent the home side into a tailspin, hustling Maldini off the ball in the 29th minute to shoot left-footed past Dida before adding his sides third a minute later, heading in from Cristiano Donis cross.
In the 33rd minute, Inzaghi pulled one back after a neat through ball by midfielder Clarence Seedorf. The striker then earned a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but Rivaldos shot came out off the post.
In the second half, Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti brought Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson on in place of Seedorf in an attempt to give his team more bite.
It was Tomasson who pulled a goal back in the 70th minute from close range and then Inzaghi equalised with a header 11 minutes from the end, but despite constant pressure the visitors held out for a draw with goalkeeper Massimo Taibi doing well to foil Rivaldo at the death.
Fourth-placed Lazio fell further off the pace after they needed a Paolo Negro goal six minutes from time to give them a 2-2 draw at Perugia while signs of a Rome revival were evident in their 3-1 win over Empoli with Vincenzo Montella scoring twice after the break. Reuters