Leaders Juventus stayed three points clear in Serie A on Sunday after they thumped lowly Novara 4-0 and second-placed AC Milan won 4-1 at Siena with Antonio Cassano scoring for the first time since heart surgery in October.
Inter Milan moved level on 55 points with third-placed Napoli and Lazio in the pursuit of the final Champions League spot after coming from behind to beat already-relegated Cesena 2-1 thanks to goals from Joel Obi and Mauro Zarate.
Inter looked to have no chance of reaching third just a month ago but rookie coach Andrea Stramaccioni is boosting his chances of getting the job permanently as he eases some of the fans' pain over their two great rivals bossing the title race.
Visitors Juventus walloped almost-relegated Novara thanks to a brace from Mirko Vucinic -- the first a delightful flick from a Andrea Pirlo freekick -- and goals from Marco Borriello and Arturo Vidal.
Juve, who next host third-bottom Lecce on Wednesday, are unbeaten in Serie A with three games left and are on course for their first scudetto since a 2006 match-fixing demotion.
Champions Milan overcame Siena with Cassano opening the scoring after 26 minutes on his first start since health problems wrecked his season and threatened to prevent him turning out for Italy at Euro 2012.
He now looks poised to be the Azzurri's talisman in Poland and Ukraine while Milan can only wonder what might have been.
"It is such as shame we've not had Cassano for all of the season," Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said.
A Zlatan Ibrahimovic double, with his second coming deep into injury time, and a late Antonio Nocerino goal completed the win.
Inter had a scare at the San Siro when Luca Ceccarelli's effort from distance went in on 56 minutes but Obi replied two minutes later and on-loan Zarate saved Inter's blushes with 18 minutes left on the clock.
If Udinese beat Lazio at home on Sunday (1845 GMT), there will be four teams on 55 points as both the title race and sprint for third look like possibly going to the wire.
"Will I stay? It depends, my 12 agents have to negotiate my salary," joked Inter interim coach Stramaccioni, who replaced Claudio Ranieri last month after impressing with the youth team.
"It was a difficult game today, because we could take third place and in the past we would slip up in this sort of situation.
"It was therefore a really important victory for us. We saw the best of Inter today, as we created so many chances. We kept the ball well and were consistent. The players also showed character to turn the result around and win a tough match."
At the other end of the table, fourth-bottom Genoa lost 3-2 at Bologna to further anger their "ultra" fans who rioted in their home defeat by Siena last weekend.
However, Lecce missed the opportunity to move above them and out of the relegation zone by losing 2-1 at home to Parma. Atalanta moved themselves into mid-table and safety with a 2-0 home win against strugglers Fiorentina.
Among Saturday's three matches, Napoli drew 2-2 at AS Roma.
Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters