Diego Milito, struggling for most of this season, scored early in the second half to give Inter a surprise 1-0 win over archrivals AC Milan in their Serie A derby on Sunday.
The Argentine broke clear of the defense and placed his shot inside the far post to propel Claudio Ranieri’s team back into the title race and end Milan’s unbeaten 12-match league run in which they dropped only two points.
Champions Milan, who began the weekend as joint leaders with Juventus, had the better of the first half, but they failed to take their chances as coach Massimiliano Allegri lost a derby for the first time in his 18 months in charge.
Milan dropped into second place, one point behind Juventus after the unbeaten Turin side drew 1-1 at home to Cagliari. Inter stayed fifth, but their sixth successive win moved them within six points of Juventus, who have 38 points.
“It was an important examination for us, in terms of the table and team morale,” Milito told Inter’s Web site. “Winning the derby is the best thing possible, especially for everyone who supported me when things got difficult.”
“This was a gigantic step,” Ranieri said. “We’ve played a good game, tactically aware. We’re playing well and getting our pride back.”
A dreadful stoppage-time miss by forward Milos Krasic cost Juventus the chance to win after they squandered an early lead.
Krasic, out of favor under coach Antonio Conte this season, was given a rare chance and failed to take it as he sent a weak effort wide when presented with a free shot inside the penalty area.
Mirko Vucinic had given unbeaten Juventus a seventh-minute lead, only for Andrea Cossu to equalize three minutes after the break with a 25m shot that swerved away from Gianluigi Buffon.
Former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni, sacked by Cagliari before the start of the season, made a winning start at Parma, who beat AC Siena 3-1, leaving them 12th with 22 points.
Donadoni replaced Franco Colomba, sacked by the Sardinians after last week’s 5-0 defeat at Inter.
Third-placed Udinese lost ground after a 3-2 defeat at Genoa, where they were missing three regular players — Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Ghana) and Mehdi Benatia (Morocco) — who have been picked to play in the Africa Cup of Nations which starts on Saturday.
Although Damiano Ferronetti gave Udinese a halftime lead, they were stung by three goals in a 21-minute spell from Andreas Granqvist, Bosko Jankovic and Rodrigo Palacio.
Striker Antonio Di Natale, 34, pulled one back from the penalty spot, his 13th goal of the season.
Udinese have 35 points, two more than fourth-placed SS Lazio, who narrowed the gap with a 2-0 win over 10-man Atalanta BC.
Hernanes converted a first-half penalty and Miroslav Klose added the other in stoppage-time, both celebrating with acrobatic somersaults, as Lazio ended a three-match winless run and bounced back from last week’s 4-0 defeat at Siena.
Romania forward Adrian Mutu scored twice, including a penalty, to give Cesena a 3-1 win over bottom club Novara Calcio, who are level with Lecce following their 1-0 win at Fiorentina.
In a mid-table matchup, Chieva Verona edged Palermo 1-0.
On a foggy night at the San Siro, Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Mark van Bommel, who crashed his effort against the crossbar from an unmarked position, missed chances as Milan had the better of the first half.