Romelu Lukaku scored after 33 seconds and set up another in Inter Milan’s 3-0 win over Genoa on Sunday to keep their title push on track ahead of city rivals Milan, who beat Roma 2-1.
Inter remain four points ahead of second-placed Milan, who got back to winning ways in Rome after back-to-back league losses including last weekend’s derby defeat.
Champions Juventus are a further six points adrift after being held 1-1 at Hellas Verona on Saturday, but have played a game fewer.
Atalanta, equal on points with Juventus, take fourth spot two points ahead of Roma who drop to fifth following the loss to Milan.
Lukaku scored with the first chance at the San Siro, then laid on Matteo Darmian for Inter’s second in the 69th minute. Alexis Sanchez came off the bench to add a third with 13 minutes to go.
“We’re first in the standings and it’s a good feeling,” said Lukaku as Inter try to deny Juventus a 10th consecutive league title after finishing runners-up last season.
Antonio Conte’s side followed on from last weekend’s 3-0 derby win over Milan, notching up a fifth win in a row as they push for a first league title since 2010.
“We’re happy because our hard work is paying off. It had already paid off last year, but the team is maturing a lot,” said Conte.
“We know that there are 14 games left. Let’s keep our antennas up until the end if we want to do something good.”
Lukaku led the way, completing a give-and-go with Lautaro Martinez after good work from Nicolo Barella to fire in from an angle for his 18th Serie A goal of the season, one shy of leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 27-year-old Lukaku has scored six goals in the last five games.
“I’m in a good moment of my career but the important thing is that Inter wins,” added the former Manchester United player.
“These matches are opportunities for us to give signals to others, but the championship is long.
“We must not give up, last year we lost in these matches, this year we’re growing.”
Milan edge Roma
Milan won an intense battle with rivals Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital, as Stefano Pioli’s side push for a first league title since 2011.
A Franck Kessie penalty gave Milan the lead five minutes before the break after Federico Fazio fouled Davide Calabria.
Jordan Veretout pulled Roma level five minutes after the break with an arrowed shot, but the away side were soon back in front.
Ante Rebic drilled home the winner eight minutes later after collecting a pass from Alexis Saelemaekers following a poor clearance from Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
Off-form Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been substituted after shortly before Croatia international Rebic scored the decisive goal.
Ibrahimovic watched the end of game with an ice pack on his left thigh before a week in which he will juggle football and music as one of the star presenters of the San Remo music fesitval.
Atalanta kept their Champions League push alive after their midweek defeat to Real Madrid with a 2-0 win over Sampdoria with goals in either half from Ruslan Malinovskiy and Robin Gosens.
Napoli’s record goalscorer Dries Mertens returned from injury to help the southerners boost their Champions League hopes with a 2-0 win over local rivals Benevento, to sit just a point behind Roma in sixth.
Mertens started for the first time in over two months after injuring his ankle in mid-December, and the 33-year-old got his boot to a Faouzi Ghoulam cross after half an hour for his 131st Napoli goal.
Matteo Politano turned in the second in the 66th minute with Gattuso’s side holding on for the points despite Kalidou Koulibaly’s sending off 10 minutes from time.
In the relegation battle, Cagliari snapped their 16-match winless run in coach Leonardo Semplici’s first match in charge with a 2-0 success over rock-bottom Crotone.