Lautaro Martinez's first hat-trick for Inter Milan helped his side crush Crotone 6-2, earning their eighth successive Serie A win on Sunday and sending Antonio Conte's team top of the standings above AC Milan.
With their local rivals in action later on Sunday, Inter knew a win would see them go top, if only temporarily, but it was not looking promising as second-bottom Crotone took a shock 12th minute lead through Niccolo Zanellato.
However, Romelu Lukaku sent strike partner Martinez through to level eight minutes later, before an own goal from Luca Marrone put Inter in front. A Vladimir Golemic penalty then levelled things up once again.
With the quality Inter possess up front, it was only a matter of time until they put Crotone to the sword in the second half, with Martinez brilliantly giving Inter the lead in the 57th minute before Lukaku added another seven minutes later.
Martinez completed his first Inter hat-trick 12 minutes from time, before Achraf Hakimi put the icing on the cake with a late sixth to put Inter top on 36 points, two clear of AC Milan and seven clear of Roma, who also play later on Sunday.
Crotone remain 19th with just two league wins all season.
Inter had the opportunity to get a head start in the only early kick off in the first round of Serie A matches after the winter break - the first time in over eight years that all 10 Serie A games will be played on a single Sunday.
But Conte's side struggled early on, and could have conceded more than Zanellato’s opener ahead of Lukaku's superb assist for Martinez settled the hosts.
Yet, even on this run of successive wins, Inter have often made life difficult for themselves, and sure enough a clumsy tackle from Arturo Vidal saw Inter again pegged back.
The link up pay between Martinez and Lukaku was too much for Crotone in the end, however, as Martinez helped himself to two more and Lukaku scored his 50th Inter goal in all competitions to put the title chasers out of sight.
Dzeko gets late winner for Roma, Zielinski inspires Napoli to victory
Veteran striker Edin Dzeko scored a late winner to earn Roma a battling 1-0 win over Sampdoria in Serie A on Sunday, keeping his side third in the standings, while two fantastic Piotr Zielinski goals steered Napoli to a 4-1 win at Cagliari.
Second-placed AC Milan and champions Juventus have matches later on Sunday but elsewhere on a busy afternoon of Serie A action after a winter break Atalanta thrashed high-flying Sassuolo 5-1 and Lazio were held to a 1-1 draw at Ge noa.
Having seen Inter go top of the table with a 6-2 win over Crotone in the day’s early kick-off, Roma looked set to fall behind in the title race as they laboured in torrential rain in the capital, failing to create any real chances in the first half.
However, moments after former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling had headed against the crossbar, the 34-year-old Dzeko scored his third goal in as many games in the 72nd minute to settle a tight contest and leave Roma six points off the top.
Napoli, looking for their first win in four league games, moved back into the top four in style with a thrashing of Cagliari.
Zielinski gave his side the lead with an arrowing, left-footed strike, before Joao Pedro equalised on the hour mark.
However, Zielinski was not done there, and he danced through the home backline two minutes later to put Napoli back in front, with a goal by Hirving Lozano and a penalty from Lorenzo Insigne making the victory more comfortable.
Lazio, having endured a miserable start to the season, had high hopes of victory at Genoa, who were languishing in the relegation zone at the start of the day.
After Ciro Immobile had given this side the lead from the penalty spot in the 15th minute -- his 14th goal in his last 14 games -- Lazio looked set to earn only their second win in six matches in all competitions.
They could not build on their lead, however, mustering just two further shots on target as Mattia Destro earned Genoa a point in the 58th minute, leaving Lazio ninth in the standings.
Serie A surprise package Sassuolo got a rude awakening at Atalanta, who rained in 23 shots in their rampant win, climbing to within a point of their rivals in sixth place in the standings, having played one game fewer.
Torino were another side to win convincingly, 3-0 at Parma, while Fiorentina were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Bologna.
Sancho ends scoring drought as Dortmund beat Wolfsburg 2-0
Jadon Sancho scored his first Bundesliga goal of the season as Borussia Dortmund returned to the top four with a 2-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday.
The hosts took the lead when Swiss centre back Manuel Akanji headed home a Sancho corner in the 66th minute and got their second goal in stoppage time when Emre Can's clearance found Sancho, who slotted the ball past Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels.
Both sides had opportunities to score in the first half, with Wolfsburg midfielder Yannick Gerhardt's attempt from close range blocked by Dortmund centre back Mats Hummels in the sixth minute.
Striker Eriling Haaland, who missed Dortmund's previous four league games with a hamstring injury, twice forced spectacular saves from Casteels, the first of which, just before halftime, was scuffed wide on the rebound by Sancho.
Edin Terzic's Dortmund moved to fourth in the league on 25 points, six behind leaders RB Leipzig.
Wolfsburg slipped to sixth after tasting defeat for the second time in three league matches.