Rome: Juventus returned to the top of Serie A following a 2-0 victory at home to Novara on Sunday, while Inter Milan's revival continued as they won 1-0 at Cesena to climb to fifth place.
Juve's win enabled them to leapfrog AC Milan, who had taken over at the top by beating Siena 2-0 on Saturday, but Udinese could draw level with Antonio Conte's side if they win at Lazio in one of Sunday's two late games.
Udinese host Juventus in an appetising final fixture of 2011 on Wednesday, when the matches cancelled on the season's opening weekend due to a player strike will finally take place.
Juve laboured to impose themselves against their Piedmont rivals Novara, promoted from Serie B at the end of last season after a 55-year absence from the top flight.
Novara defended valiantly but were always chasing the game after Simone Pepe converted a low cross in the fourth minute to claim his fifth goal of the season.
Fabio Quagliarella, preferred in attack to Alessandro Matri, made the game safe with Juve's second goal in the 75th minute.
Defending champions Milan had enjoyed a straightforward outing against Siena, prevailing through goals from Antonio Nocerino and a contentious Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty - his 10th goal of the season.
Inter may be outside the title picture, but they appear to have put their early-season miseries behind them following their third straight victory.
A solitary headed goal from Andrea Ranocchia was enough to take the 2010 champions into the European places, but they are still 10 points off Juve's pace.
Two points behind Inter and 12 from the top, Napoli host Roma later on Sunday with both teams attempting to avoid getting left behind by the leading pack.
A superb free-kick from Francesco Lodi set Catania on their way to a 2-0 victory over Palermo in the season's first Sicilian derby.
The win took Catania up to eighth, one place behind Genoa, who defeated Bologna 2-1.
Bottom side Lecce let two precious points slip away in injury time, drawing 3-3 at Parma despite having led 3-1 with only five minutes to play.