Treble top for Higuain
A review of the weekend's action so far in the Italian Serie A.
- Related Content
Gonzalo Higuain's hat-trick helped Napoli tighten their grip on the last Champions League place with a 4-2 home victory over 10-man Lazio.
The Argentina striker - signed from Real Madrid last summer - plundered his first treble for the Stadio San Paolo outfit, while Dries Mertens' wonder goal before half-time made life especially difficult for eighth-placed Lazio.
Edy Reja's men had opened the scoring through Senad Lulic but lost control of proceedings when Albanian defender Lorik Cana saw red shortly after the break.
Ogenyi Onazi did pull one back for the Biancocelesti, who are now five points off Inter Milan and the last European berth on offer in Serie A, before Higuain completed his hat-trick with deft finish deep into stoppage time.
Riccardo Montolivo fired AC Milan back into the top half of the table and into the race for Europe as they recorded a 1-0 victory over 10-man Catania.
The 18-time Italian champions have spent most of the season in the doldrums but four-straight wins have now seen Clarence Seedorf's men close to within five points of city rivals Inter Milan and the final Europa League berth.
While bottom side Catania dominated much of the encounter at San Siro - Montolivo's screamer on 23 minutes was the only attempt of many that found the net - the doomed Sicilians finally lost heart after Fabian Rinaudo saw red.
Alberto Paloschi netted a hat-trick as Chievo gave their survival hopes a big boost on Sunday afternoon with a 4-2 win at Livorno.
Luca Siligardi put Livorno ahead in the sixth minute of a topsy-turvy first half, only for Paloschi and Cyril Thereau to turn the game on its head.
Paulinho's penalty swiftly got the hosts back on level terms, but Paloschi's second goal of the game restored the Flying Donkeys' lead in first-half stoppage time and he completed his treble 11 minutes after the break from the spot to seal the points.
Fiorentina emerged victorious from an eight-goal thriller at Hellas Verona that saw the Tuscans tighten their grip on a Europa League berth.
Jacopo Sala gave Verona the upper hand early on but Juan Cuadrado and Alberto Aquilani completed a quick turnaround for Fiorentina before half-time.
Borja Valero extended the visitors' lead before Marco Donadel's dismissal allowed La Viola to assert their dominance.
Luca Toni and Alessandro Matri exchanged penalties at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, but Aquilani's late second goal rendered Juan Iturbe's stoppage-time strike a mere consolation.
The 5-3 victory keeps Fiorentina five points clear of Inter Milan in fourth place - with five games remaining - while Verona drop to 10th.
Two goals in a minute kept Torino's dreams alive of qualifying for Europe next season as they came from behind to beat Genoa 2-1 in a dramatic finale at the Stadio Olimpico.
An unorthodox goal five minutes from time from Alberto Gilardino seemed like it would be enough for Genoa to earn the points, but Torino refused to accept defeat.
In stoppage time, first Ciro Immobile brought them level before Alessio Cerci struck a winner to keep the Granata in the hunt for a top-five finish as they remain five points behind Inter Milan.
Samir Handanovic helped Inter Milan survive a first-half onslaught from 10-man Sampdoria before the Nerazzurri hit their straps to plunder a 4-0 victory at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Mauro Icardi opened the scoring for Europa League-chasing Inter but goalkeeper Handanovic saved Maxi Lopez's penalty and dexterously repelled countless Samp efforts to steer the visitors towards half-time unscathed.
Eder's early dismissal ultimately proved critical to Samp's chances of pulling off a comeback and Inter took advantage of their extra body to wrap up the victory through further goals from Icardi, Walter Samuel and Rodrigo Palacio.
Parma's pursuit of European football stalled as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw at struggling Bologna.
Raffaele Palladino secured the point with a 79th-minute equaliser for Roberto Donadoni's side, who had trailed to Nicolo Cherubin's strike just before half-time.
The result lifted Parma provisionally above Inter Milan, who were in action later on Sunday, and into fifth place, and left Bologna precariously placed just clear of the relegation zone.
Roma kept up the chase of Juventus with a comfortable 3-1 win over Atalanta, taking them to within five points of the leaders.
Francesco Totti inspired the Giallorossi to all three points, playing a hand in goals for Rodrigo Taddei, Adem Ljajic and Gervinho before Giulio Migliaccio bagged a consolation for the Nerazzurri.
The win puts the ball back in Juve's court ahead of their trip to Udinese on Monday night, while practically securing the Giallorossi second spot with 15 points now between them and third-placed Napoli, who host Lazio on Sunday.
In Saturday's other game, relegation-threatened Sassuolo claimed a much-needed point from a 1-1 home draw against Cagliari.
Returning Cagliari coach Ivo Pulga saw his side trailing in his first match back at the helm after Simone Zaza put the home side ahead eight minutes before the break, but an Agim Ibrahimi penalty at the start of the second half clinched a point for the visitors.