Most didn't expect such a lopsided scoreline for Serie A's most anticipated match of Round 12, but with sustained spells of pressure in both halves from Napoli resisted, the visitors just couldn't get their feet in the match. Instead, Juventus ran out the well-deserved winners, dominating the game and scoring some absolutely lovely goals. With the 3-0 win, and Sassuolo's late-game equalizer against AS Roma, the Old Lady are now within one point of first place.
The match could not have started off better for the Old Lady. Okay, well, it could have, had Pepe Reina not denied Paul Pogba before sixty seconds were up. But before two minutes had passed, Fernando Llorente had the ball in the back of the net. No matter that replays showed the Spanaird was offside -- Juventus had the lead and they were bound and determined to keep it.
Fortunately for Napoli, Reina's quick feet and long reach managed to keep them within shouting distance early on. After the first half, fans back in Naples likely hastily erected a cappuccino foam statute or pizza likeness or other such tribute. After all, in the eighth minute, the goalkeeper had somehow -- scientific tests are still trying to determine exactly how -- managed to stop a close range header from Leonardo Bonucci from landing in the back of the net. Before the half was up, Reina had also managed to push aside a sharp shot from Carlos Tévez and scoop up a header from Llorente.
It took some time, but by the 20th minute, Napoli were finally in the match. Lorenzo Insigne, who certainly made a great argument for a return to the starting XI with his performance against Juventus, was the first to threaten Gigi Buffon's goal. Just after, it was Gonzalo Higuaín going just wide of the Juve goal. As Napoli continued to build up the pressure, their passes started to flow, pressing and getting into good position. Such a move resulted in another attempt from Insigne, this one just wide. But what really broke the diminutive Italian's heart was when, in the 42nd minute, he hit a screamer from distance, but the ball hit the roof of the net. The expression on Buffon's face showed the keeper was well and truly beaten.
In the second half, Napoli did their best to try to get back in the match, but ultimately just could not find the goal. Early on it was Insigne once again, winning a free kick in a dangerous position and then stepping up to take it himself. The shot was lovely, bending around the Juve wall, but Buffon just managed to get a finger on it.
And so the deserved punishment came, from who else but Andrea Pirlo, delivering a classic free kick from just outside the area. The gorgeous ball flew over the wall and took a sharp dip down, just evading Reina's outstretched arm. Even Napoli supporters must admit that was one fantastic goal.
It was hard for anyone to find fault with Juve's third goal, either -- even the most true-blue azzurri supporters. Pogba got on the end of a ball from Arturo Vidal, flicked it up and watched it fall back toward the pitch. His right foot got there before the ball hit the ground, however, volleying it in, sending it off the post and into the back of the net.
Napoli were thrown a lifeline in the 83rd minute, when Angelo Ogbonna was shown a second yellow for a silly challenge on Dries Mertens. Mertens himself managed a decent shot moments later. Then it was time for Federico Fernández to masquerade as an attacker. Finally, Insigne tried once more for goal. But Buffon was up to the challenge each time, frustrating the partenopei till the very end.
Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Isla, Vidal (Marchisio 86), Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah, Llorente (Quagliarella 88), Tévez (Peluso 84)
Goals: Llorente 2'; Pirlo 74'; Pogba 80'
Napoli: Reina, Maggio, Fernández, Albiol, Armero, Inler (Zapata 79), Behrami, Callejón (Mertens 71), Hamšík, Insigne, Higuaín
Goals: not a one