Juventus and Napoli responded to respective exits from the UEFA Champions League with convincing wins over Sassuolo and Inter Milan in Italy's Serie A on Sunday.
Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick, with Federico Peluso claiming his maiden Juve goal, as the Bianconeri bounced back from a 1-0 defeat at Galatasaray which left Antonio Conte's men third in Group B and in the UEFA Europa League.
Conte wanted his side to win both pre-Christmas games, at home to Sassuolo and away to Atalanta, and Juve completed the first task with consummate ease. It was Juve's eighth consecutive win without conceding a goal.
Juve remain top on 43 points with a six-point lead on Roma, who on Monday travel to AC Milan - Italy's sole representative in the Champions League.
Roma now have even more incentive to win after Napoli closed the gap on them to two points after a thrilling 4-2 win over Inter, who were left in fifth place following Fiorentina's 3-0 defeat of Bologna earlier in the day.
Napoli had lost out on second place in their Champions League Group F to Borussia Dortmund, despite amassing 12 points, and like Juventus wanted their return to domestic duty to be positive.
Inter were reduced to ten men in the 71st minute when Ricky Alvarez was shown a second yellow card for a handball, but by then most of the damage had been done.
Mazzarri was mostly applauded by fans of the club he steered to a second place finish last season, but departed feeling less buoyed with Inter now winless in their last four games.
Inter levelled on 35 minutes thanks to Esteban Cambiasso only for Napoli to restore their lead four minutes later when Dries Mertens pounced on a loose ball to beat Handanovic with a curling strike at his near post.
Napoli outgun Inter
Blerim Dzemaili stretched Napoli's lead two minutes later when he tapped home Lorenzo Insigne's perfectly-weighted ball across the face of goal but Napoli were stunned on the stroke of half-time when Yuto Nagatomo reduced arrears.
Inter created several chances in a dramatic second but ultimately failed to capitalize. Napoli suffered a scare when Rafael was left dazed and requiring treatment after a clash with Fredy Guarin as the Colombian threatened in close following Rodrigo Palacio's cross.
Inter suffered their own blow when Alvarez was red carded and after Napoli coach Rafael Benitez replaced Higuain with Valon Behrami the hosts stretched their lead further. Insigne was the provider, the Italy forward firing a perfectly-weighted ball for Jose Callejon at the back post to tap home past Handanovic in the 81st minute.
Napoli should have had a fifth, after Andrea Ranocchia was judged to have hauled down Goran Pandev, who had replaced Anthony Reveillere in the 91st minute, inside the box. However Handanovic pulled off a superb diving save to beat Pandev's spot kick at his left hand post.
Klose puts Lazio back on track
A brace from Miroslav Klose in a 2-0 win over Livorno helped relaunch Lazio's stuttering season as Fiorentina moved up to fourth in Serie A with a comprehensive 3-0 win at home to Bologna on Sunday.
Italian Cup champions Lazio had won only four times this season, their last victory, a 2-0 defeat of Cagliari at the end of October, heaping the pressure on coach Vladimir Petkovic.
Petkovic on Saturday had admitted that this could be his last game in charge of the Biancocelesti in the event of defeat against league new boys Livorno.
However the 50-year-old Bosnian's nerves were settled before the half-hour of a one-sided affair with German veteran striker Klose hitting the net twice in the space of seven minutes.
German international Klose, who made his return to the fray in the Europa League in midweek following a shoulder injury, hit the target at the second time of asking on 19 minutes after Bardi had run out and initially got a hand to his effort.
Klose grabbed his second seven minutes later when he picked up the rebound from a Hernanes shot on the edge of the area and was given time to stride in unchallenged to drill past Bardi.
Lazio's fifth win of the campaign moved them up to ninth place. Fiorentina, meanwhile, capitalised on Bologna's poor form of late to move up to fourth at the expense of Inter.
Fiorentina had won their home fixture against Bologna in the past two seasons and raced to a 13th minute lead when Josep Ilicic silenced the critics of his recent goal drought with a fine individual effort.
The Slovenian had not scored since April but after collecting the ball in midfield he dribbled his way through the Bologna defence before leaving keeper Gianluca Curci rooted to the spot..
Before claiming his 13th goal of the season, Rossi first turned provider. Sighting Borja Valero running through unmarked, Rossi delivered a perfect square ball allowing the Spaniard a clear run on goal to beat Curci with a curling shot inside the keeper's far post.
Bologna had little in response and Fiorentina virtually sealed the points in the 64th minute when Rossi added a third. This time, Valero returned the favour with a chipped pass into the path of the Italy striker, who coolly lobbed the advancing 'keeper from the edge of the area to take his his league-leading tally to 13 in 16 games.
Fiorentina almost grabbed their fourth when Juan Vargas ran through on goal but the Peruvian's effort was blocked by Cesare Natali.
Elsewhere Udinese dropped several places down the table, to 15th, after being stunned 2-0 by Torino at home with the goals coming from Alexander Farnerud and Ciro Immobile.
Sampdoria secured a precious fourth win of the campaign, the second in succession under new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, with a 1-0 win away to Chievo which moved the Genoese side up to 14th.
Parma and Cagliari played out a scoreless draw while Genoa, who scored a 72nd minute opener through Andrea Bertolacci, were stunned by Atalanta in the fourth minute of injury time by a Giuseppe De Luca leveller.