Juventus took a significant step towards a second successive Scudetto by battling their way to a 2-1 victory over Inter in Saturday's Derby d'Italia at San Siro.
Fabio Quagliarella opened the scoring in sensational fashion just three minutes in with a stunning strike from just outside the area, after Alessandro Matri had created space for him with an ingenious stepover.
Rodrigo Palacio drew a game home side level shortly after half-time with an impressively composed finish but there was no containing the Bianconeri's front two, who combined to devastating effect again on the hour mark, with Matri applying the finishing touch this time in far more routing fashion to send Antonio Conte's men 12 points clear at the summit of Serie A.
Juve would have been forgiven for having one eye on their midweek Champions League meeting with Bayern Munich, but the likes of Gianluigi Buffon spoke before the game of a burning desire for vengeance, having seen their 49-game undefeated run in Serie A ended by the Nerazzurri all the way back in October.
Therefore, the way in which Juve tore into their hosts right from the first whistle really should have come as no surprise. That their early endeavour yielded a goal was not in the least bit shocking either - but the manner of the opener was most certainly spectacular, Quagliarella picking up possession some 25 yards out following a wonderful dummy from strike partner Matri before whipping the ball into the top right corner of Samir Handanovic’s goal.
The reigning champions could have doubled their advantage moments later but Leonardo Bonucci headed over at the end of a breathtaking Bianconeri breakaway.
This frustratingly brittle Inter side could easily have folded in the face of such an early onslaught but, credit to Andrea Stramaccioni’s side, they came storming back and Buffon was twice forced to come to the visitors’ rescue, tipping a low strike from Antonio Cassano around the post before then scrambling a Palacio header off the line.
It was Juve who continued to carry the greater attacking threat, though, and only some alert goalkeeping from Handanovic prevent Arturo Vidal from getting a shot away after the Chilean had been put through by a characteristically sublime ball over the top from Andrea Pirlo. The latter then tested Handanovic himself shortly before the break with a stinging drive from distance.
Inter responded with a tame downward header from Palacio, following more good work from Cassano, but, in truth, they home side were somewhat fortunate to go in just a goal in arrears at half-time. They looked a different side after the break, though, and deservedly drew level when Palacio, with the aid of the most exquisitely timed arrival into the area, took a measured pass from Cassano in his stride before casually rolling the ball past an exposed Buffon.
However, the equaliser merely raised Juve from the interval-induced slumber and they reclaimed the lead on the hour mark. Again, the goal owed everything to the tremendous telepathy between their front two, Matri slotting home first time at the near post after being the recipient of a terrific cut-back from Quagliarella.
Inter tried valiantly to rally but they were unable to secure even a point from the game, thus all but ending their hopes of a top-three finish. However, even that was no justification for the way in which their frustration spilled over right on full-time, with Esteban Cambiasso earning a fully-deserved straight red card for a dreadful foul on fellow second-half substitute Sebastian Giovinco.
Even that, though, did not sour Juve's celebratory mood at the end of a game which has all but sealed the title.