Edin Dzeko © Getty Images
Gonzalo Higuain hit a brace either side of Paulo Dybala's first-half spot-kick as Juventus moved four points clear of Roma on Sunday with a comfortable 3-0 win over Bologna in Turin.
In their first competitive match since losing the Italian Super Cup to AC Milan in Doha days before Christmas, Juventus were without Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Dani Alves and Patrice Evra for the visit of Roberto Donadoni's men.
But Bologna's last win over Juve came in February 2011, and their hopes of launching any kind of challenge suffered a setback on seven minutes when Miralem Pjanic found Higuain with a searching pass that the Argentinian smashed on the volley past the hands of Antonio Mirante.
Dybala doubled Juve's lead minutes before halftime by firing low into the bottom corner after Stefano Sturaro had earned a generous penalty upon colliding with Marios Oikonomou on the edge of the area.
Higuain put the match beyond all reach when he rose unchallenged to nod past Mirante from Stephan Lichsteiner's perfectly-weighted cutback on 55 minutes after a great counter-attacking move that left Bologna in disarray.
Higuain's 12th goal of the season moved him to within two of league-leading compatriot Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan, but the Argentine moved from Napoli in the summer to win titles and is edging closer every week.
Juve's 15th win sees the champions four points ahead of Roma, and with a game in hand following the postponement of their league fixture against Crotone due to end-of-year Super Cup commitments.
Massimiliano Allegri's men will now focus on defending their Italian Cup trophy on Wednesday when they host high-flying Atalanta in Turin.
And in Serie A the Turin giants have reason to be watching Roma, Napoli, Lazio and AC Milan after they secured cagey but crucial wins at the weekend.
Only one goal behind league leader Icardi, Roma striker Edin Dzeko hit a series of blanks as the Giallorossi laboured to a 1-0 win at Genoa where Armando Izzo's disastrous first-half own goal secured the points.
Genoa threatened an equaliser in the final stages when Wojciech Szczesny notably plucked a Lucas Ocampos strike out from under the crossbar.
But before then Dzeko volleyed a cross from Radja Nainggolan on to the upright, hit the side-netting from Diego Perotti's assist and blasted over from Kevin Strootman's delivery.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti refused to criticise Dzeko, telling Rai Sport: "He had a great game because he never once made it easy for the opposition defence.
"He put himself about, especially at the end of the game to make sure we got the result we wanted."
Napoli, 2-1 winners over Sampdoria on Saturday when Lorenzo Tonelli grabbed a last-gasp winner on his debut for the southerners, held on to third.
Deservedly so, said Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri: "I think we deserved to win this game: we had nine shots on goal compared to their three and 25 shots compared to their seven," said Sarri.
Lazio remain in fourth, only a point behind Napoli, after Ciro Immobile made up for Lucas Biglia's penalty miss at the Stadio Olimpico by striking in the final minute to secure a 1-0 win over dogged Crotone.
At the San Siro Carlos Bacca ended his 98-day goal drought with an 88th minute winner against Cagliari that saw AC Milan up to fifth to close within nine points off the summit.
Atalanta's stunning season continued with a 4-1 away win at Chievo where Alejandro Gomez notably hit a first-half brace to send the Bergamo side up to sixth at just seven points behind Juve.
Earlier, Ivan Perisic scored twice including a late winner as Inter Milan began the New Year with a 2-1 comeback win at Udinese.