Goals from Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzuckic and Blaise Matuidi handed Juventus a 3-0 win over Bologna as the defending champions leapfrogged Inter Milan to climb to second in Serie A.
Juve made three changes from the goalless draw with Inter, with Andrea Barzagli, Alex Sandro and Douglas Costa replacing Giorgio Chiellini, Kwadwo Asamoah and Juan Cuadrado, as they looked to keep up the pressure on league leaders Napoli.
Bologna meanwhile made three changes from their 2-1 defeat at AC Milan, with Ibrahim Mbaye, Andrea Poli and nineteen year old Orji Okwonkwo, making his first start in Serie A, replacing Vasilis Torosidis, Adam Nagy and Rodrigo Palacio respectively.
The opening exchanges saw Juventus dominate in terms of both possession and territory, but the match was almost twenty minutes old when the defending champions finally took the game’s first shot in anger, as Miralem Pjanic blazed over from the edge of the area from Alex Sandro’s pull back.
Five minutes later, it was Bologna’s turn to have their first chance of the game, as Godfed Donsah broke from the centre of midfield, and after riding the challenge of Barzagli, fired low into the arms of Szczesny.
Juve’s response to that minor scare was to take the lead with a stunning Miralem Pjanic free kick. Positioned right on the left hand corner of the Bologna penalty area, the Bosnian curled his effort towards the top corner of the near post, and although goalkeeper Mirante got his hands to it, he was able to prevent Pjanic from notching his third league goal of the season to hand the champions the lead.
After Higuain became the first player in the game to be booked following a late challenge, Sami Khedira missed a chance to double Juve’s lead, but volley from a corner which bounced into the ground and up into the arms of Mirante.
Moments later Juventus did double their advantage, as Pjanic turned provider for Mario Mandzuckic, who controlled the midfielder’s lofted ball with his chest before volleying home from a tight angle for his fourth league goal of the season.
That second goal only strengthened Juve’s control on the game, and Verdi’s cross come shot free kick after 43 minutes was easily held by Szczesny, giving the champions a 2-0 lead at half time.
There was to be no let up for the hosts after the break as Juventus continued to press their attacks in the opening stages of the second period. Blaise Matuidi’s flick on from a corner found Higuain who couldn’t get his shot away, before the Argentinean was unable to reach a toe-poked pass through from Diego Costa after the winger had linked up nicely with Mandzuckic on the edge of the area.
As was so often the case in the match, Bologna once again fashioned a decent chance from which they failed to test Szczesny in the Juve goal 55 minutes in. This time it was the turn of Okwonko, but the youngster’s low turn and shot was straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
Perhaps inevitably, Bologna’s lack of ruthlessness was once again punished by the champions in the 64th minute. Helander’s clearance found Matuidi at the edge of the area, and the Frenchman rifled a first time volley low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 to Juve and claim his first Serie A goal.
Once again the champions began to turn the screw on their hosts, this time it was Higuain who went close, running across the face of goal before unleashing a thumping 20 yard effort to produce a flying save from Mirante.
Higuain then went close again with twenty minutes to go, as Masina headed a cross straight at the feet of the Argentinean, who blazed over from fifteen yards while under pressure from Helander.
Perhaps the most worrying moment if the afternoon for Juventus came with a quarter of an hour remaining, as Mandzuckic limped off to be replaced by Paulo Dybala after landing awkwardly when jumping when jumping for a header.
Dybala almost made an instant impact upon his arrival, as he latched onto Higuain’s flick on inside the Juventus half, but having sprinted half the length of the pitch, his effort was tipped over by Mirante with Higuain waiting for a tap in in the centre of the area.
Higuain had one last chance to get his goal in the final minute of normal time, but after cutting inside his low strike was easily gathered by Mirante.
Bologna thought they had a consolation in final minute as Szczesny dropped the ball over his line from a corner, but the goalkeeper was clearly fouled by Mbaye allowing Juve to warm up for next weekend’s crunch clash with Roma with a comfortable 3-0 win.