Andrea Pirlo was on target as Juventus stretched its advantage at the top of Serie A with a 3-0 win over Atalanta.

Story highlights

Juventus ease to 3-0 win over Atalanta to strengthen position at top of Serie A

Milan up to seventh following 4-1 thrashing of Pescara

Tottenham claims 1-0 win over Swansea to reach 4th in EPL

Borussia Dortmund defeats Hoffenheim while Schalke sack coach Huub Stevens

CNN  — 

Juventus will enter the New Year as favorite to retain Serie A after it claimed a comfortable victory over Atalanta.

With nearest rival Inter Milan slipping up at Lazio on Saturday, goals from Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio ensured Juve took full advantage.

Napoli’s 3-2 home defeat by Bologna means Juve is seven points clear at the summit following the weekend’s action.

With just one more game before the winter break, Juve is in great shape heading into the second half of the season, although manager Antonio Conte remains cautious.

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“It was a good result for us against a difficult team, but the season is far from over,” he told reporters.

“Winning the title is never easy but through our good organisation and solid play we hope to show it’s within our grasp.”

It took around 90 seconds for Juve to move ahead through Vucinic, before Pirlo produced one of his trademark curling free-kicks to double the lead.

Marchisio added a third with a low drive after picking up Sebastian Giovinco’s pass.

Atalanta’s day grew even worse when it was reduced to 10 men following Thomas Manfredini’s rash challenge on Giorgio Chiellini, which earned him a second booking.

Magical Milan

Elsewhere, Milan continued its rich vein of form by defeating Pescara 4-1.

Alberto Nocerino fired the Rossoneri ahead after just 36 seconds to register the second fastest goal in Serie A this season.

An own-goal from Elvis Abbruscato doubled Milan’s lead before Pescara hit back through Christian Terlizzi’s header.

Another own-goal, this time by Jonathas, allowed Milan to restore its two-goal lead before Stephan El Shaarawy fired home his 14th of the season.

Elsewhere, Fiorentina moved into fifth place following a 4-1 win over Siena thanks to a double from former Italy striker Luca Toni.

Roma, now sixth, was beaten 1-0 by Chievo following a strike by Sergio Pellissier.

Elsewhere, Catania sits in eighth place following a 3-1 home win over Sampdoria, while two goals from Ishak Belfodil inspired Parma to a 4-1 win over Cagliari.

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In the English Premier League, Tottenham moved into fourth position following a narrow 1-0 victory over Swansea City.

Jan Vertonghen’s 75th minute goal proved enough for Spurs to claim all three points a hard-fought affair.

“I think if there was one team to win this game it was us,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters.

“We were very patient and persistent in what we were doing and kept moving the ball well.

“We held on to the win. Obviously in this season we will continue to suffer goals in the last minute because football is unpredictable, but I think today the players showed the desire and ambition to put the wrong right and we managed to hang on to the result.”

There was drama in the dying stages of the contest when Swansea striker Michu was left prostrate on the turf after a collision with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The home side continued to play on with the Spaniard clutching his head on the turf and Swansea’s players urging for the ball to be kicked out of play.

Referee Mike Dean and his assistants allowed the game to continue and Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was left frustrated by the decision.

He told reporters: “I was very angry and it wasn’t because it wasn’t a free-kick or a red card for Lloris or a penalty or whatever, but we always talk about people, there is a debate, should we kick the ball out?

“It is the same debate in every country - we have a referee and two linesmen so we just go on until the referee blows the whistle.

“But with possible head injuries, like this one, there is no doubt, you have all the linesmen and the referee and they are connected.

“I watched it afterward on the television and when it happened, when Michu is going down to the ground the referee is watching them, the linesman is watching them and still they let the game go on, it is such a poor decision and dangerous as well.”

In the day’s other game, West Bromwich Albion was held to a goalless draw by West Ham United.

Bayern’s bid for Bundesliga record falters

In Germany, defending champion Borussia Dortmund claimed a 3-1 win to move back into third place.

Mario Goetze, Kevin Grosskreutz and Robert Lewandowski were all on target for Dortmund, which sits 12 points behind league leaders Bayern Munich.

Goetze’s stunning strike put Dortmund ahead after 20 minutes, only for Hoffenheim to draw level soon after thanks to Sven Schipplock’s close-range finish.

But Dortmund pushed on after the interval and Grosskreutz fired home on 58 minutes before Lewandowski sealed the win eight minutes later.

Hoffenheim, which has lost its past six games, is now seven points from safety in 16th position, having sacked coach Markus Babbel on December 3.

New Manager

Meanwhile, Schalke has announced that it has parted company with Dutch coach Huub Stevens following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Freiburg.

A statement on the club’s website read: “In light of the recent poor run of form in the Bundesliga, Schalke have opted to release Huub Stevens from his duties as head coach with immediate effect. Club officials reached the decision by mutual agreement with Stevens at a meeting on Sunday morning.”

Former VfB Stuttgart coach Jens Keller will take over for the rest of the season with his side seventh in the league and still in the Champions League.

“The players gave me a positive reception and I could tell they were totally focused on the cup game,” Keller told the club’s official website.

“Though I’ve watched the first team train on a regular basis, looking on from a distance is not the same as being in charge yourself.

“I’m now going to spend time considering how best to approach the game against Mainz. If we are to do well the psychological side of things will be very important.”

Elsewhere, Werder Bremen needed a late equalizer to draw 1-1 at home with Nuremberg.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain moved to the top of the league on goal difference following a 1-0 win over Lyon.

Blaise Matuidi scored the only goal of the game, while Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez hit a post as the visitor threatened to take a point.

Elsewhere, Saint Etienne suffered a 2-0 home defeat by Lorient, while Nancy held Bordeaux to a 1-1 draw.