Gonzalo Higuain scored his eighth goal in the last six league games to inspire Serie A leaders Juventus to a 2-0 win at Sassuolo on Sunday while their nearest rivals floundered.
Second-placed Roma led twice before two goals in three minutes sent them to a 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria and Napoli were held 1-1 at home by lowly Palermo who were playing their first game under Diego Lopez, their fourth coach of the season.
Juventus have 51 points from 21 games, with Roma on 47 and Napoli in third on 45. The Turin side also have a game in hand as they move closer to a sixth consecutive title.
Higuain set Juventus on their way to a comfortable win by getting ahead of his marker to head in Alex Sandro’s cross after nine minutes, taking his tally for the season to fifteen.
The Argentine set up Juve’s second when he dispossessed Paolo Cannavaro and provided a low cross which was turned in by Sami Khedira after 25 minutes.
Edin Dzeko’s 66th minute goal appeared to put Roma on course for a win as they led 2-1 at Sampdoria but Patrik Schick levelled five minutes later with his first touch of the game, having come on as a substitute little more than a minute earlier.
There was more drama two minutes later when Luis Muriel scored the winner with a deflected free kick.
Francesco Totti’s free kick was turned away by Christian Puggioni and Roma also had a penalty appeal turned down as they threw themselves forward
Bruno Peres had given Roma a fifth-minute lead but his goal was cancelled out by Dennis Praet before halftime.
“We lacked maturity. We weren’t able to make the most of our possession and we were a little slow at reading the game,” said Roma coach Luciano Spalletti.
Ilija Nestorovski gave Palermo a shock lead at Napoli when he headed in from a corner in the sixth minute.
Napoli spent the rest of the game camped in the Palermo half but were repeatedly foiled by goalkeeper Josip Posavec who was in inspired form.
But, in a cruel twist, Posavec allowed a weak Dries Mertens shot to squirm through his hands for Napoli’s equaliser in the 66th minute.
The 20-year-old Croatian goalkeeper redeemed himself with further saves and Palermo survived the seven minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after Edoardo Goldaniga was sent off for a wild challenge.
Giovanni Simeone scored twice, the second a late penalty, as Genoa fought back from 2-0 and 3-2 behind to draw 3-3 at Fiorentina.
Josip Ilicic and Federico Chiesa had put Fiorentina 2-0 ahead but Genoa hit back with two goals in three minutes just before the hour, from Simeone and Oscar Hiljemark.
Nikola Kalinic put Fiorentina back in front almost immediately but the Violets blew it when Federico Bernardeschi handled on the line, was sent off and Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, converted the penalty.
Diego Falcinelli’s hat-trick gave struggling Crotone a glimmer of hope with a 4-1 win over Empoli.
Crotone remain mired in the relegation zone but their win cut the gap between themselves and Empoli, the team immediately above the bottom three, to eight points.
Rodrigo de Paul gave Udinese a controversial 2-1 win over AC Milan, scoring the winner after having escaped a red card for a dangerous challenge on Mattia De Sciglio moments earlier.
De Sciglio was still receiving treatment when De Paul burst down the right and beat Gianluigu Donnarumma with an angled drive.