Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri's job slipped further from his grasp as the club were held to a 2-2 home draw by Atalanta to take their winless streak to seven matches. Third placed Juve now hold a single point advantage over Fiorentina in fourth and risk missing out on automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stages next season.
Only the top three in Italy earn that honour while the fourth placed finisher must negotiate two qualifying rounds to make it to the group stages. Fiorentina's 1-0 home win over Sampdoria was their sixth win in seven matches and during that period they have made up 12 points on Juve.
Ranieri was already widely expected to be fired at the season's end, but his demise may come even sooner now that Juve risk finishing outside the top three. And this result - in a match played in front of an empty Stadio Olimpico in Turin as punishment for a section of Juve fans' racist chants aimed at Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli last month - may prove the final nail in Ranieri's coffin.
Things started badly as Luca Cigarini gave Atalanta a second minute lead. Juve dominated from there and Vincenzo Iaquinta equalised before Cristiano Zanetti's spectacular long-range volley gave the hosts the lead. But a minute before the break Maximiliano Pellegrino struck back for the mid-table visitors and toil as they might, Juve could not find a winner after the break.
Fiorentina more secure
Elsewhere, Alberto Gilardino scored the only goal of the game for Fiorentina as they downed listless Sampdoria, who also lost the Italian Cup final in midweek. Fiorentina's victory means they are almost assured of UEFA Champions League football for the second year in a row after Genoa were held to a 2-2 home draw by Chievo.
La Viola lead fifth-placed Genoa by five points with two games left and as they have a better head to head record they need only a point to ensure a top four finish. However, with just a point separating them from Juve, they will have their eyes on a top three place, although the Turin giants have the better head to head record so Fiorentina will need to earn two more points than their rivals in those last two games.
Lecce need a miracle
At the bottom, Sergio Volpi scored a crucial injury time winner as Bologna beat Lecce 2-1 at home to boost their survival hopes and virtually condemn their visitors to Serie B. Lecce are now bottom and five points from safety following Torino's 2-1 win at Napoli, meaning they will need a miracle to survive.
So, too, possibly second bottom Reggina, who beat Cagliari 2-1 but remain four points behind Torino. The final relegation position looks likely to be between Bologna and Torino, who are separated by one point. Torino are ahead, but Bologna have the better head to head record.