Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday to remain firmly on course for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title.
Juventus moved four points above Inter Milan, which was held 1-1 at relegation-threatened Lecce earlier. Lazio is six points behind Juve but with a game in hand.
Ronaldo’s brace took his tally to 432 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, one behind all-time record-holder Lionel Messi, who scored for Barcelona on Sunday.
“What was important was to win tonight,” Ronaldo said. “Lazio won, Inter drew and we couldn’t allow ourselves not to make the most of that important advantage.
“The match was difficult because Parma is a good team and put us in difficulty. I’m happy to have helped the team with two goals, but what’s important always is the three points at the end.”
Ronaldo’s first goal was thanks to a stroke of luck as his effort took a deflection off Parma defender Matteo Darmian to wrongfoot goalkeeper Luigi Sepe, two minutes from halftime.
Andreas Cornelius headed in a corner to draw Parma level in the 55th but Juventus restored its lead just three minutes later.
Paulo Dybala raced down the right and rolled the ball across for Ronaldo to sidefoot home for his 11th goal in his last seven league matches.
Ronaldo missed several chances to complete a hat trick.
Just like Juventus back in October, title-chasing Inter Milan was surprisingly held to a draw at Lecce.
It could have been worse for Inter as Lecce, which is a point off the relegation zone, hit the post late on through Filippo Falco.
Marcelo Brozovic hit the post for Inter and Lecce had a penalty decision revoked after video review in the first half.
The Nerazzurri broke the deadlock in the 72nd when substitute Alessandro Bastoni, who had just come off the bench, headed in Cristiano Biraghi’s cross.
However, Lecce leveled five minutes later as captain Marco Mancosu got in front of Bastoni to volley in Zan Majer’s short cross.
Substitute Ante Rebic scored twice to help AC Milan win a thrilling match 3-2 against Udinese.
Milan is undefeated since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to the club and the latest success saw the Rossoneri move up to eighth, two points off the European spots.
Ibrahimovic set up the late winner. He was at the end of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s long kick and chested it down to a teammate. The 38-year-old Swede then sprinted toward the area where he played a one-two with Rebic, who fired into the bottom right corner.
Milan had got off to a disastrous start as Jens Stryger-Larsen took advantage of an error from Donnarumma to fire into an empty net and give Udinese the lead in the sixth minute.
Rebic was brought on at halftime and he scored his first goal for the club three minutes later.
Donnarumma made up for his earlier mistake with a series of saves and Milan took the lead when an Udinese clearance fell to Theo Hernandez and he volleyed it in from 25 yards. The defender is Milan’s leading goalscorer with five league goals.
Udinese thought it had secured a point when Kevin Lasagna headed in the equalizer five minutes from time but Rebic scored in stoppage time.
Mario Balotelli’s match lasted just seven minutes before he was sent off in Brescia’s 2-2 draw against Cagliari.
Balotelli had just come off the bench when he received a yellow card for a high tackle in the 81st and then he was immediately shown a second for his reaction to the booking.
Also, Roma won 3-1 at Genoa and Bologna drew 1-1 against Hellas Verona.