Antonio Cassano's goal in his first start for six months helped AC Milan to a 4-1 win at Siena on Sunday and kept his team within three points of Serie A leaders Juventus who thumped lowly Novara 4-0.
Cassano opened the scoring 26 minutes into his first match after having heart surgery in October in a health issue which 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 a 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 victory.
Inter Milan and Udinese moved level on 55 points with third-placed Napoli, who drew 2-2 with Roma on Saturday night, and Lazio in the pursuit of the final Champions League spot after they both enjoyed important home wins. They still trail Milan by 19 points though.
Inter came from behind to beat already-relegated Cesena 2-1 thanks to goals from Joel Obi and Mauro Zarate.
Second-half strikes from Antonio Di Natale and Roberto Pereyra gave Udinese a valuable win in a drab encounter against a tired-looking Lazio, which ended in chaotic scenes.
Juventus won at Novara thanks to a brace from Mirko Vucinic - the first a delightful flick from a Andrea Pirlo free kick -- and goals from Marco Borriello and Arturo Vidal.
Juve, who 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.
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.
Photograph: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images