Veteran Filippo Inzaghi fired a hat-trick to send AC Milan second following a 5-1 win over Torino at the San Siro. It was Inzaghi's second treble in his last six matches and took his tally during that period to nine goals to continue his remarkable resurrection this season. He was not even a regular first team starter until last month and this was only his tenth league start of the campaign.
While it is Inzaghi's name that will dominate the Monday headlines, it was his collaboration with former England captain David Beckham that was the true architect of this victory. Beckham set up Inzaghi's first two goals and even provided the cross for a disallowed effort from the goal-machine early on. It was as if Beckham's right foot and Inzaghi's head had their own personal radar connection.
The win moved Milan level on points with Juventus, but with a better goal difference, although final league positions are decided on head-to-head records, if teams finish with equal points. Juve currently lead that having beaten Milan 4-2 at home in December, but the two teams meet in Milan next month in what will surely be a direct battle for second place.
With Beckham restored to Milan's starting line-up following two games as an unused substitute due to a shoulder injury, he and Inzaghi tore Torino apart. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid ace first found the 35-year-old forward's head on nine minutes from a free-kick, but Inzaghi had strayed offside. But four minutes later he nodded home a Beckham corner and on 37 minutes a clever chip into the box from the Englishman again found Inzaghi's head.
After the break Milan ran riot, as substitute Ronaldinho set up Inzaghi for his hat-trick on the hour mark before Kaka added a penalty after Massimo Ambrossini was brought down by goalkeeper Matteo Sereni. Ivan Franceschini got Torino on the scoresheet ten minutes from time, but Ambrossini finished off a sumptuous team effort in the last minute to round off the scoring.
Fiorentina fail to capitalise
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Fiorentina missed the chance to move into a UEFA Champions League qualifying position after losing 3-1 at Udinese. La Viola could have gone above fourth-placed Genoa, but failed to capitalise on their rivals' 1-0 home defeat to Lazio, as a double from Gaetano D'Agostino condemned them to defeat.
Those two results helped Roma reignite their own hopes of a top four finish, after battling to a 3-2 home win over Lecce. Roma now sit three points behind Fiorentina and five adrift of Genoa. Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli said he still believes his side can finish in the top four for the second year in succession.
"We conceded a goal on the counter-attack and, despite everything, we were right in it in the first half," he said. "At the start of the second half we conceded a goal from a penalty - a mistake by the referee - and that changed everything. But I still believe we'll qualify for the Champions League. We have all the elements to believe right to the end and we'll keep fighting until the last."
On 18 April, ten-man Juventus grabbed a point at home to leaders Inter Milan as Zdenek Grygera's injury-time header earned the hosts a 1-1 draw at Turin's Stadio Olimpico.