Pogba brace, Tevez restore Juve lead over Roma
Ten-man Juventus restored their three-point lead on Roma with a brace of goals in either half from Paul Pogba and a Carlos Tevez strike underlining the champions` credentials in a 3-0 win at Lazio on Saturday.
Juventus were down to 10 men after midfielder Simone Padoin saw red in the 70th minute when he was cautioned for a second time after a foul on Italy international Antonio Candreva.
By then, the damage had already been done, Pogba hitting the opener in the 24th minute and Tevez doubling Juve`s lead with a fine strike on 55 minutes.
Pogba effectively put the match beyond reach for Stefano Pioli`s men in the 64th minute and despite Lazio making two changes in the wake of Padoin`s sending-off the hosts failed to capitalise on their man advantage.
Juve`s 10th win in 12 games leaves them top on 31 points, three ahead of Roma who clinched a 2-1 win away to Atalanta earlier in the day.
"It was our best performance of the season," Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport.
"We have every reason to be happy. Coming to Lazio was never going to be easy."
Lazio had dropped only five points in their previous seven games but Biancocelesti heads dropped after Pogba`s opener -- a fact coach Stefano Pioli highlighted after the game.
"We should have had a totally different reaction after the first goal," said Pioli. "But Juve showed what a great side they are."
Napoli sit in third seven points further adrift but can reduce the arrears with a win at home to Cagliari on Sunday, when the highlight is the Milan v Inter derby.
Both Roma and Juventus are in Champions League action next week, the title challengers away to CSKA Moscow while the defending Serie A champions travel to Swedish champions Malmo on Wednesday.
Ahead of that challenge and amid ongoing injury concerns among his defence, Allegri deployed a 4-3-1-2 formation with Roberto Pereyra in the hole just behind attacking duo Tevez and Fernando Llorente.
Although Andrea Pirlo made his return to the middle of midfield, Pogba was to be the main beneficiary.
Pogba broke the deadlock following a classic counter-attacking move which saw Tevez set the Frenchman up to drill past Federico Marchetti from the edge of the box.
Pogba spurned a chance to double his tally when a curling shot left Marchetti stranded only to come off the top of the far post.
At the other end Gianluigi Buffon kept a powerful Antonio Candreva free kick under control, while Keita Balde volleyed over from close range.
But Juve rarely looked troubled and doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart.
An error from Lorik Cana prompted another counter-attack, with Claudio Marchisio setting up unmarked Tevez on the edge of the box for the Argentinian to curl a low strike past the outstretched Marchetti for his ninth league goal of the season.
Tevez now leads the Serie A scoring charts with a one and two-goal cushion on Napoli`s Jose Callejon and Mauro Icardi of Inter respectively.
Tevez said: "Now, our focus is on Malmo."
Buffon reacted quickly to keep Candreva`s drive out of the top corner but Juve stretched their lead in style.
Pirlo, on his return from an injury absence, sighted Pereyra in space on the edge of the area and when he squared to Pogba the Frenchman feinted to send Marchetti the wrong way before firing inside the keeper`s near post.
After Pogab`s underwhelming start to the campaign, Allegri said: "Pogba played his best game of the season so far."
Padoin`s expulsion should have sparked some kind of Lazio revival but despite Candreva testing Buffon with a superbly-struck free kick the hosts failed to capitalise on their advantage.
Earlier, Roma fought back from a Maxi Moralez goal in the first minute away to Atalanta to prevail 2-1 thanks to Adem Ljajic`s 23rd minute leveller and Radja Nainggolan`s winner three minutes from half-time.