A C Milan's hopes of claiming Italy's second automatic qualifying place for next season's Champions League suffered a blow on Saturday when they were beaten 2-1 away by mid-table AS Roma.
Second-half goals by Antonio Cassano, five minutes after coming on as a substitute for an injured Francesco Totti, and Damiano Tommasi secured the points for Roma, despite a late strike by Milan's Jon Dahl Tomasson.
The result left Milan in third place in the Serie A, three points adrift of city rivals Inter Milan and nine adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus with four games to play.
Inter and Juventus, having played a game less than AC Milan, are at home against Lazio and Brescia respectively on Sunday.
After a balanced first 60 minutes, Roma's Brazilian midfielder Emerson burst into the penalty area, forcing a save from Dida but the ball fell to Cassano who scored from close range. Sixteen minutes later, Tommasi headed powerfully to score from a cross by Lima and make it 2-0.
Milan got back into the game when Tomasson latched onto a floated ball into the penalty area to score in the 81st minute. Three minutes later, a shot from Manuel Rui Costa was heading goalwards but he was thwarted by a flying save by Roma keeper Ivan Pelizzoli.
The game was a curtain raiser for the Italian Cup final between the two teams. Roma are likely to claim a place in the UEFA Cup just by getting into the final as AC Milan are expected to finish in the top four of the Serie A, giving them at least passage into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said he was still hoping that second-placed Inter might slip up between now and the end of the season.
"We're not thinking about it," he said when asked about the prospect of qualifying for the Champions League via the competition's preliminary rounds.
"I still think we have a chance of getting into one of the top two spots," he said. But he conceded that any hopes of winning the Serie A title had gone.
In Saturday's other game, an injury time penalty from Italy international Cristiano Doni gave Atalanta a 2-2 draw at home to Torino but the point gives neither side much help in their battle against relegation.
Bottom club Torino took the lead in the 22nd minute through former Atalanta midfielder Massimo Donati but Doni brought the Bergamo club level in the 76th with a close-range shot.
Torino looked to have taken the points when Donati curled home a fine shot in the 89th minute but Doni's injury time penalty ensured that at least Atalanta's new coach Giancarlo Finardi avoided defeat in his first game in charge.
Finardi took over in midweek following the sacking of Giovanni Vavassori and while his team move up to 14th place they are still in real danger of returning to Serie B after three seasons in the top flight.