- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

MILAN (AP) - Runaway leader Juventus took another important step towards the Serie A title as it eased to a 2-0 win over second-place Lazio on Saturday.

Carlos Tevez scored a league-leading 18th goal, and Leonardo Bonucci added the second within 29 minutes at Juventus Stadium, blowing away Lazio’s hopes of a ninth successive victory.

Lazio midfielder Danilo Cataldi was sent off late on for a dangerous tackle on Tevez.

“I’m happy with what the lads did, not just tonight, but throughout the season,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Lazio is physically fitter than us, they have played several games fewer. But we had the maturity to manage the match well.

“It was an important match tonight, we’re closer to the title. Now we need to win at least three more.”

There have been reports again recently that Tevez will return to Boca Juniors at the end of the season to be with his family.

“It’s normal to feel nostalgic for home, friends and family. I feel it, and I’m only three hours away from Livorno,” Allegri said. “But now we need to think only of the league, Italian Cup, and Champions League and, to me, he appears focused on these aims.”

Juventus moved 15 points clear of Lazio, which could be overtaken by city rival Roma when it hosts Atalanta on Sunday.

“We wanted to control the match, we played well in parts,” Lazio coach Stefano Pioli said. “It’s not like we didn’t make mistakes in the previous eight matches, just they weren’t against Juventus.

“In the situations where we could have done damage we had less precision than normal. But we put on a good performance and that wasn’t easy. After we went 2-0 down, the team continued to play with personality and the right spirit.”

Victory also boosted Juventus ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Monaco for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

Earlier, Sampdoria was held to a goalless draw at home by relegation-threatened Cesena, despite playing with four strikers as it attempted to improve its chances of qualifying for Europe.

Lazio knew a club-record ninth successive win would cut Juventus’ lead to a not-impossible nine points, with seven rounds remaining.

Juve had slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at bottom club Parma last weekend ahead of the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal - which it won 1-0 following a controversial penalty - and was keen to avoid making the same mistakes.

Alvaro Morata was rested and replaced by Alessandro Matri in a strong starting XI, while Lazio was missing key players such as Stefan de Vrij, Marco Parolo, Stefan Radu, Filip Djordjevic and suspended duo Pedro Luis Cavanda and Diego Novaretti.

The match was also a preview to the Italian Cup final between them in June.

Tevez broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with his first touch, springing the offside trap onto a long ball flicked on by Arturo Vidal and firing into the bottom right corner.

Tevez was also involved in the second, making a darting run to fool the Lazio defence and allowing Bonucci to sprint forward from the halfway line before drilling hard and low past Federico Marchetti.

In half an hour, Lazio had conceded as many goals as it had during its entire run of eight successive wins.

Lazio’s misery was complete in the 89th minute when Cataldi was shown a straight red card.

In Genoa, Samuel Eto’o, Luis Muriel, Stefano Okaka and Eder all started for Sampdoria but couldn’t finish off the home side’s numerous chances.

Sampdoria was also denied by a goal-line clearance when former defender Stefano Lucchini hooked Alessio Romagnoli’s header off the line.

Sampdoria provisionally moved level on points with fourth-place Napoli, while Cesena was third from bottom, but a point closer to safety.

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