Juventus kept their own title hopes alive while dealing a potentially fatal blow to those of Milan with a thrilling 4-2 victory at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Juve stay just six points behind leaders Inter, who beat rock bottom Chievo by the same score earlier in the day.
Milan, who finished with 10 men after Gianluca Zambrotta was sent off on his return to his former club, are nine points back in fourth spot with the title now slipping away.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti said defensive weakness had cost them.
“What made the difference? We were too vulnerable at the back, we let them have too many chances to score,” he said.
Juve took the lead through an Alessandro Del Piero penalty after the striker himself was felled in the box by Marek Jankulovski.
Milan hit back just after the half hour as Georgian center-back Kakha Kaladze played in Ronaldinho on the left and he crossed for Pato to tap home.
But Milan failed to stay on level terms for very long and center-back Giorgio Chiellini was left free to head home a Del Piero corner.
Brazilian Amauri scored Juve’s third just before the break.
Massimo Ambrosini then scored Milan’s second on 56 minutes with a deflected shot but any hopes the visitors had of claiming something from the game soon disappearedwhen Amauri slotted in his second with a bobbled volley.
At the San Siro, Inter looked to be coasting two minutes into the second half when they led 2-0 but the Flying Pigs staged an unexpected fight-back to level things at 2-2 before Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a late brace.
That ensured Inter will go into the Serie A winter break in a week’s time at the top of the standings.
Inter were off to a dream start on three minutes as Brazilian full-back Maxwell cantered down the left on the overlap, took a pass from Dejan Stankovic, cut inside and rifled home right footed.
It was a similar story at the start of the second period as the champions fashioned a brilliant goal through Stankovic.
Sergio Pellessier began the comeback with a stunning shot from distance that gave Julio Cesar no chance in the Inter goal.
And on 65 minutes the San Siro was stunned into silence as Andrea Mantovani got to the byeline on Chievo’s left and crossed for Simone Bentivoglio to bundle home from barely two yards out.
But Ibrahimovic rose highest to head home a cross from Maicon with 11 minutes left the Swede later smashed home a stunning right foot shot two minutes from time.
AS Roma won for the fifth match in a row to continue their recent resurgence with a come from behind 3-2 success at home to Cagliari.
Roma have been upwardly mobile since a disastrous start to the season in which they lost six of their first nine matches and they are now in the top half of the table for the first time this campaign.
Italian Serie A
Team P GD PTS
1 Inter Milan 16 19 39
2 Juventus 16 15 33
3 Napoli 16 10 30
4 AC Milan 16 6 30
5 Fiorentina 16 10 29
6 Genoa 16 6 26
7 Atalanta 16 4 24
8 Lazio 16 3 24
9 Palermo 16 1 23
10 Roma 15 -1 23
11 Udinese 16 3 22
12 Catania 16 -3 22
13 Cagliari 16 -2 20
14 Sampdoria 15 -2 19
15 Siena 16 -4 19
16 Bologna 16 -8 14
17 Lecce 16 -10 13
18 Torino 16 -12 12
19 Reggina 16 -18 12
20 Chievo 16 -17 9