Second-half strikes from Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez secured a 2-0 win away to Livorno on Sunday to send champions Juventus top of Italy’s Serie A for the first time this season.
Elsewhere, Lazio escaped with a 1-1 draw away to 10-man Sampdoria while Fiorentina’s hopes of challenging for a place in Europe next season were dented by a 1-0 defeat away to dominant Udinese.
Juventus, with whom goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his 500th Serie A appearance, now have a two-point cushion on overnight leaders Roma ahead of the capital side’s home game against struggling Cagliari on Monday.
Llorente, who also set up Tevez’s strike, said: “We have to take it a game at a time but, for sure, overtaking Roma can add a little pressure to them.
“But we have to keep on winning, concentrate on our own jobs and continue doing what the coach asks us to do.”
Napoli, stunned 1-0 at home by Parma on Saturday, are now six points off the pace in third but stayed ahead of fourth-placed Inter after the Nerazzurri were held to a 1-1 draw away to Bologna.
Bologna took the lead in deserved fashion when Panagiotis Kone collected Jonathan Cristaldo’s square ball on the counter and kept his cool to slot it past Samir Handanovic in the 12th minute.
Inter had a mediocre opening period but spirits were lifted six minutes after the break when an angled shot by Jonathan took a deflection off the boot of Frederik Sorensen to wrong-foot Gianluca Curci in the home goal.
Rolando Bianchi brought a great reflex save from Handanovic with a half-volley from outside the area, but from then on Inter had the lion’s share of the chances and were unlucky not to claim a winner at the death.
Rodrigo Palacio’s angled drive from the right was blocked and, after Fredy Guarin collected the rebound, Curci got down low to block his angled shot from close in.
In injury time Curci blocked at his near post when Rolando rose to send a bullet header goalwards from a corner.
Moments later the crossbar came to Bologna’s rescue, stopping a sweetly-struck volley from Juan Jesus that would likely have become a contender for goal of the season.
“It was as if the game was cursed,” said Inter coach Walter Mazzarri.
“We played well but we were also naive at times. I’m disappointed because we reaped a lot less than we sowed.”
Stefano Pioli’s side remained just above the relegation zone but the Bologna coach said: “It’s a useful point for us, hopefully it will help us get out of this sticky situation.”
Although Roma could regain top spot with a win on Monday, results elsewhere were welcomed by Juventus, who host FC Copenhagen on Wednesday in a Champions League clash they must at least draw if they harbour any hopes of qualifying from Group B.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, were dominated throughout a 1-0 defeat away to Udinese that left ‘La Viola’ with their third defeat of the campaign, but still in fifth place.
Coach Vincenzo Montella said: “We just couldn’t get going in the second half. We were far too frenetic.”
Struggling Sampdoria suffered a blow early in the second half when Nenad Krsticic saw red for a challenge on Cristian Ledesma.
But with new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic in charge, the hosts rallied and substitute Roberto Soriano headed Samp into a shock 67th minute lead, only for Lorik Cana to produce a fine individual effort to level at the death.
“It’s never pleasing to concede a goal in the dying seconds. I’m more sorry for the lads because they showed how they can play, how they can fight,” said Mihajlovic, a player with Sampdoria and Lazio who quit as Serbia coach in midweek.
“But we shouldn’t let the heads go down, we’ve shown what we’re capable of and I’m sure we will fight our way back up the table.”
Lille and Monaco kept pace with leaders Paris Saint-Germain, both winning 1-0 in Sunday’s Ligue 1 action in France.
Pape N’Diaye Souare scored six minutes from time to keep Lille second in the table four points behind PSG with a win over 10-man Toulouse.
Champions PSG had won 3-0 at Reims on Saturday.
In Sunday’s late kick-off, substitute Mounir Obbadi’s 70-minute strike kept Claudio Ranieri’s Monaco in the chase as they came away with all three points from fellow newly-promoted side Nantes.
Monaco’s first win in four games puts them third in the table five points off the pace.
Rene Girard’s Lille extended their run to nine games without conceding a goal as Nigerian international goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has kept his slate clean for 855 minutes of action.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to compete with PSG. For the moment Paris are four points ahead, you can’t say that they’ve pulled ahead,” said Girard.
It was a largely unconvincing display from the northerners who struggled to create anything despite playing the final 34 minutes with a numerical advantage following Oscar Trejo’s red card.
“The sending off totally changed the direction of the match,” complained Toulouse coach Alain Casanova.
“When I see my player with three stitches it makes me think there surely must have been a foul beforehand.
“He was given his marching orders and I regret it because we were really causing them problems on the technical front. We found ourselves with ten with half an hour to go and they didn’t have many chances.”
Enyeama was required to save his side on three occasions from Ben Yedder, Issiaga Sylla and Adrien Regattin.
But Souare found space at the back post from Florent Balmont’s cross from the right to head home and snatch the three points.
The Nigerian international goalkeeper admitted his side had luck on their side.
“I made great saves, are you sure?!” he said. “We were lucky because they had a player sent off while they had been playing very well up until that.”
Meanwhile, Saint-Etienne got back to winning ways at Nice despite the absence of their fans.
Around 250 visiting fans were evacuated from Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium after coming under fire from sections of the home support, who tore up seats and threw them at their rival supporters.
The visitors however let their football do the talking with Mevlüt Erding scoring his first goal for Saint-Etienne after 23 minutes, lifting his side to sixth.
It was a fourth straight defeat for Nice, who were hit by a string of injuries, with an error from third goalkeeper Luca Veronese, 22, accounting for the goal.
On Saturday, PSG kept their unbeaten start to the season intact with a dominant 3-0 win at Reims.
Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez shared goals either side of half-time and Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a late insurance marker as Laurent Blanc’s men rumbled to their 10th victory in 14 outings.
Lyon were held 1-1 at home by relegation threatened Valenciennes, while Lorient picked up a rare away win by thrashing French Cup finalists Evian 4-0.
The three other Saturday matches between Montpellier and Guingamp, Rennes at home to Bordeaux and Sochaux entertaining Bastia all finished 1-1.
On Friday, Marseille moved up to fourth spot with their second straight win at Ajaccio, a 3-1 triumph in Corsica.
Sevilla ensured rivals Real Betis remain rooted to the foot of the La Liga table with a 4-0 win in the Seville derby at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.
Colombian striker Carlos Bacca gave the hosts the perfect start as he raced onto Jose Antonio Reyes’ through ball to open the scoring inside two minutes.
Betis were unlucky not to be level seven minutes before the break when Nono smashes a thunderous strike off the post.
But it turned out to be a disastrous end to the half for the visitors as defender Paulao shown a second yellow card for a foul on Reyes.
And from the resulting free-kick Stephane M’bia headed home with the aid of a goalkeeping error from Guillermo Sara.
Sevilla continued to dominate after the break and Vitolo added a third when he collected Bacca’s pass before finishing coolly just before the hour mark.
And Vicente Iborra rounded off the scoring two minutes from time when he nodded in Ivan Rakitic’s corner.
Earlier, Villarreal maintained their grip on fourth place with a comfortable 3-0 win away to Levante.
Bruno Soriano opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Levante keeper Keylor Navas had been sent-off for bringing down Ikechukwu Uche.
And Uche sealed the points himself with a late double, including a stunning overhead kick a minute from time.
Valencia’s dismal campaign continued as they were beaten 2-1 away at Elche to keep the pressure on under-fire coach Miroslav Djukic.
And Espanyol moved up to eighth thanks to a hat-trick from Sergio Garcia as they won 4-1 away to Rayo Vallecano.
Milan Badelj, Maximilian Beister and Hakan Calhanoglu all scored for Hamburg in a 3-1 win over Hannover, while Mainz went away to Werder Bremen and struck a 3-2 victory thanks in large part to a pair of scores from Sinji Okazaki. Eljero Elia and Franco di Santo both scored after the 85th minute but it was too little, too late. Mainz moved into seventh in the Bundesliga while Hamburg jumped to 11th.
Sporting Lisbon stole an away 1-0 victory from Guimaraes as Islam Slimani scored at the 90th minute. The crucial victory against seventh-placed Guimaraes kept Lisbon just a point behind Porto for second in the Portugese Liga title race. Estoril also jumped into fourth with a 2-0 win over Rio Ave, as Luis Leal scored twice.