AC Milan stormed back to the top of Serie A with a 3-0 win at lowly Cesena today as they made light of the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In two games since the Swede has been suspended for a clash with Napoli's Salvatore Aronica, Milan have won. Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari, on his debut, and versatile Dutchman Urby Emanuelson both scored their first goals for the club with Robinho adding the third as Milan went a point clear of Juventus, although having played a game more.
The two Italian giants meet next week in a top-of-the-table clash at the San Siro. Juventus had taken over at the summit yesterday with a 3-1 win over ten-man Catania.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri praised the contribution of Muntari, a deadline day loan signing from Inter Milan. "He did well today, not just with the goal but also in getting the ball forwards, we've made a great signing," he told Sky.
"I don't know why Inter weren't using him, we looked at the situation and it's a comfortable one for us. When he was at Udinese he had his best season but maybe he left too young (to go to Portsmouth). I thought he would have a different career. Sometimes people make mistakes in the moment but you can see that the quality is there."
Daniel Pudil scored Cesena's consolation goal and the defeat pushed them to the bottom of the table.
Udinese, meanwhile, took over third place, the final UEFA Champions League qualifying position, despite being held to a 0-0 draw at home by Cagliari. Their climb was in part due to Lazio's humiliating 5-1 thrashing at Palermo, which was their six loss in all competitions this year.
Palermo's win moved them into striking distance of the European places. The game was over by half time as goals from Edgar Barreto, Massimo Donati and Matias Silvestre had the hosts in total control. Igor Budan and Fabrizio Miccoli added early second-half strikes before Libor Kozak's late consolation.
Roma moved up to fifth and sent Inter Milan, who lost 3-0 at home to Bologna on Friday night, down to seventh with a 1-0 win over Parma.
Lecce came from a goal down to beat Siena 4-1 to boost their hopes of beating the drop this season. Lecce remain two points from safety, but with Siena the team occupying the final survival position it was a crucial success.