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The Bianconeri are moving ever closer to the title after the champions squandered more points and fell a game in arrears to Antonio Conte's side

COMMENT
By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor

The two performances could not have been more different. AC Milan stumbled and stuttered against Bologna, lacking ideas, creativity and leadership. Juventus, on the other hand, put Roma to the sword from the very first minute, opening up a one-game cushion that they surely won’t throw away as they close in on the title of 2011-12 Scudetto winners.

The defending champions displayed none of the calculated superiority that had first won them the championship last year, and then sent them four points clear just a month ago. Instead, the clash with the Rossoblu was another demonstration of just how far the once mighty have fallen.

Mark van Bommel’s careless loss of possession in midfield to Alessandro Diamanti which led to Gaston Ramirez firing home should not have been fatal. They should have had the gumption to come back and win in the time-honoured fashion of Milan teams past. But right now this Rossoneri outfit looks a shadow of itself, and in the end they did well to get anything from the game.

MATCH FACTS | Milan 1-1 Bologna

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Territory
 Corners
 Bookings
 Red Cards
MILAN
17
7
65%
65%
9
2
1
BOLOGNA
11
6
35%
35%
1
2
0

Zlatan Ibrahimovic went missing for long spells, but remained the man most likely. He should have had an equaliser early in the second half when he lobbed the advancing Federico Agliardi, with the ball crossing the line despite Nicolo Cherubin’s desperate attempted clearance. But somehow, an offside flag went up against the Swede, even though he’d come from at least a yard onside.

Still, there should have been enough in the Milan tank to win the game, but there was just no ideas-man in their midfield. Antonio Nocerino, Van Bommel and Sulley Muntari were all short of the cutting edge that the Diavolo once took for granted when they had names such as Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa in their ranks. They could have got by with a decent display from Clarence Seedorf, but the Dutchman disappeared without trace.

Instead it took a last-minute strike by Ibrahimovic to rescue a point, but that was never going to be enough in the context of the title race. With games running out, this was a match Milan needed to win regardless of Juve’s result later in the day, and Massimiliano Allegri conceded that the Bianconeri were title favourites even before they pulled Roma apart in Turin.

That the Giallorossi were pathetic defensively came as a surprise to few given some of their showings this season, but Juventus’ clinical finishing was a far cry from the profligacy that has threatened to derail their title push for much of the term. Typically, though, it was the midfielders who did all the scoring.

First, Mirko Vucinic played a slide rule ball in behind for Paolo De Ceglie, who crossed low for Arturo Vidal to fire home from close range. Then the middle man was cut out as Vucinic teed up the overlapping Chilean to drill across Maarten Stekelenburg with real aplomb. Eight minutes in, two goals up, and Juve had the three-point lead in their sights already.

MATCH FACTS | Juventus 4-0 Roma

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Territory
 Corners
 Bookings
 Red cards
JUVENTUS
19
9
50%
52%
3
1
0
ROMA
4
1
50%
48%
3
1
1

Aleandro Rosi had looked all at sea from the off, and he was to contribute to the clincher midway through the first half. The full-back stood and watched as Claudio Marchisio made a run onto another exemplary through pass by Vucinic, allowing the midfielder to advance and knock the ball past Stekelenburg, who brought him down.

A penalty was rightly given, but the accompanying red card was harsh, with Marchisio having sent the ball well away from goal and made himself third-favourite in the chase behind the retreating Rosi and Jose Angel. Still, Andrea Pirlo didn’t let the arguments affect him, stepping up to fire home the rebound after his original spot-kick was parried away by substitute Gianluca Curci.

The remainder of the game was little more than a procession, and just after the interval the irrepressible Vucinic got involved in a fourth goal when he played a superb first-time back-heel to Marchisio, who curled home clinically with his instep from just outside the area. The four goals took the tally for Juve midfielders this campaign to 27, which accounts for more than 47 per cent of their overall mark. As team units go, they are right up there.

The win was symbolic of Juve’s season in its convincing manner, but it also highlighted the increased capability of the side in recent times. While Milan have wobbled, the Old Lady have stayed strong, stringing together a season-high six-match winning streak that now carries them to within four wins of the title, with all of their remaining five games coming against teams from the bottom seven of Serie A.

With Fiorentina, Inter, Napoli, Palermo, Lazio and Roma all having been dispatched in the last five weeks, Cesena, Novara, Lecce, Cagliari and Atalanta shouldn't so much stand in their way as be eyewitnesses to their glory march. At a time when real champions stamp their mark on a season, it is Juventus, and not Milan, who are taking the league by storm.

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