Atalanta 0-2 Juventus
Lichtsteiner and Giaccherini crown Conte's men as winter champions
The Bianconeri dominated the contest in Bergamo, and are assured first place at the halfway stage of the season thanks their four-point lead at the top
Juventus overcame Atalanta 2-0 at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia to clinch the unofficial title of Serie A winter champions.
After a slew of first-half chances went begging, Stephan Lichtsteiner belatedly headed the visitors in front 10 minutes after the restart. Substitute Emanuele Giaccherini volleyed home a well-taken second with eight minutes to go to claim victory for Juventus, who provisionally move four points ahead of nearest rivals AC Milan.
Juventus attacked straight from kick-off, and nearly took the lead after only three minutes of play, but Alessandro Matri wasted a glorious chance, sidefooting Simone Pepe’s low cross over the bar from only a few yards out.
The visitors were taking the game to Atalanta in the early stages, and Pepe flashed an effort wide of the far post after latching onto Claudio Marchisio’s through ball.
Matri went even closer two minutes later, hitting the post from inside the area, before Mirko Vucinic coaxed a stunning save from Andrea Consigli with a powerful shot towards the top corner.
Atalanta managed to recover from the frantic start to gain a foothold in the game, but Juventus continued to create chances and always looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
Pepe took matters into his own hands with a barnstorming run from midfield five minutes before the break, but his shot at the end was beaten away by Consigli.
Barely a minute later, Arturo Vidal unleashed a fearsome drive from all of 30 yards that beat Consigli but smacked off the crossbar. Somehow, Atalanta had managed to make it to half-time with the score still goalless.
However, their luck would not hold for long in the second half, and a sublime pass by Andrea Pirlo completely unhinged the Atalanta defence, allowing Lichtsteiner to steal in at the far post and head the visitors in front.
Matri fashioned a great chance for himself shortly after the hour mark when he won possession in the opposition half and sprinted through on goal, but his finish deserted him once again as his lob attempt bounced just wide of the far post.
Juventus were comfortable at this point, and substitute Luca Marrone had a shot saved at the near post by Consigli after a neat one-two with Matri.
With eight minutes left, Juventus put the icing on the cake when Marrone’s delightful chipped ball was caught on the volley by fellow substitute Giaccherini to put the match beyond doubt.
The result sees Juventus move four points clear at the top, but that lead could be cut after Milan’s fixture against Novara on Sunday. Atalanta meanwhile remain in 15th place, five points off the relegation zone.
Inter 2-1 Lazio
Pazzini and Milito net as Claudio Ranieri's side come from behind to record eighth straight victory
Nerazzurri continue their superb run after coming back from a goal down to earn an important victory over the Biancocelesti in their bid to regain the Serie A title
Inter's return to form in Serie A shows no signs of abating after they managed to dig out a 2-1 win over Lazio at San Siro on Sunday.
Goals from Diego Milito and Giampaolo Pazzini ensured the Nerazzurri extended their run of wins to eight in all competitions, despite Tommaso Rocchi putting the visitors in front early on, as Claudio Ranieri's men now leapfrog their opponents into fourth place in the table.
It was Inter who started most positively, mainly via the likes of Maicon surging down the right flank, but they could have taken a lead in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, as Federico Marchetti almost gifted Ricardo Alvarez the chance to break the deadlock from a poor kick-out.
However, Lazio slowly crept back into the game, and they were almost rewarded for their efforts through Rocchi, who was seemingly on hand to capitalise on Lucio's failure to read the ball and saw his poked attempt hit the post with Julio Cesar stranded.
But they eventually took the lead on 29 minutes, thanks to the visionary passing of Cristian Ledesma, as he threaded Rocchi through one-on-one with the Brazilian goalkeeper. The striker latched onto the pass and dispatched his finish across the face of goal and into the corner.
However, despite overriding Biancocelesti pressure, Inter grabbed an equaliser on the edge of half-time, as Ricardo Alvarez's one-two found Milito in the box, and the Argentine marksman struck coolly past Marchetti to restore parity before the interval.
There was potential for the stuffing to be knocked out of Lazio, as Inter looked to have gained the momentum, but the visitors once again promptly set their stall out, looking to adopt a crisp passing style similar to that of the first half.
Inter, meanwhile, were keen to build on their momentum, and it paved the way for a pulsating second half. Minutes after the restart, Giampaolo Pazzini met Maicon's near-post cross, but Marchetti did well to block the striker's attempt.
And their persistence to go in front paid off, but not without some poor defensive play from Stefan Radu, who allowed a lobbed pass from Lucio bounce over him, and Pazzini was alert to anticipate the situation and chip the ball on the half volley over an onrushing Marchetti.
Inter switched to a 4-1-4-1 system and brought on Marco Faraoni for goalscorer Milito in order to see out the three points comfortably, but that did not deter Lazio from trying to flood balls into the Nerazzurri half, coinciding with the introduction of Abdoulay Konko.
Lazio remained in control of possession in the latter stages of the match, but the likes of Klose or Matuzalem failed to make their through balls count, as the win sees Inter move within only six points of leaders Juventus, while Lazio drop to fifth following their defeat.
Novara 0-3 Milan
Ibrahimovic and Robinho make the difference as Rossoneri return gap to Juventus back to one point
After a host of missed chances, three second half goals, two from the Swede and one from the Brazilian, give Allegri's side the points against a spirited Biancoazzurri
Three second-half strikes, two from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and one from Robinho, gave AC Milan all three points against Novara in a 3-0 triumph at the Stadio Silvio Piola on Sunday afternoon.
A host of missed chances in the first period looked to have cost the champions victory, but three efforts from the Rossoneri's strike partnership secured the win that takes them a point behind leaders Juventus in the Serie A table.
With Massimiliano Allegri making five changes to the side that lost last weekend in the Derby della Madonnina, it was perhaps no surprise that, with some of the starting XI having a point to prove, the team with the best attack in the league started the game brightly.
And it was one of those players who had the best of the early chances: Robinho, following up from an Ibrahimovic free kick, fired wide from a tight angle when it was perhaps easier to score.
The Rossoneri were really clicking into gear, and peppered the Novara goal with shots on an almost constant basis. First, it was Mark van Bommel who threatened with a long-range effort.
Then Ibrahimovic forced a good save from Samir Ujkani following another free kick. Finally, Thiago Silva thought he'd scored with just 20 minutes gone when his header left the goalkeeper stranded, only for Andrea Caracciolo to clear the ball off the line.
It looked inevitable then that Milan would eventually take the lead, and it seemed for all the world as if they had on 32 minutes. Antonio Nocernio turned nonchalantly past Michel Morganella in the box, and stroked the ball towards the far post, only for it to miss the target by a matter of inches, and leave the visitors frustrated as they went into the break.
The second half started much the same way that the first had ended, except, after five minutes, Novara looked to counter Milan's constant attacking threat, and they did just that through a fantastically surging from Marco Rigoni.
The 32-year-old looked 10 years younger as he left Van Bommel and Nocerino eating dust on the halfway line, before sliding an exquisite ball through to Caracciolo on the left-hand side of the area. The former Brescia man then cut inside and slotted his shot towards the far corner, only to see it squirm agonisingly wide.
That looked to have been a wake up call for Allegri's side, and they soon took the lead through an easy finish from Ibrahimovic. A wonderfully weighted through ball from Ambrosini found the Swedish striker inside the area, and with two touches he smashed the ball from close-range past Ujkani.
Tesser's side, looking for an equaliser, were now leaving room for Milan to exploit. And they used it to their advantage once more. A cross from Nocerino on the right-hand byline found Stephan El Shaarawy, who took a touch and shot across goal, only for Robinho to slid in and give Milan a comfortable 2-0 cushion.
And it was 3-0 with less than a minute to go. El Shaarawy's cross was palmed away by Ujkani, only for Ibrahimovic to flick the ball pas the goalkeeper on the rebound, and take him back to the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts.
That was how it ended, with Milan now only a point behind Juventus going into next weekend's game against Cagliari. Novara stay rooted to the bottom of the table, having to travel to Palermo in the next round of fixtures.