MILAN, Italy (AFP) — Inter Milan finally launched what has been billed an unlikely bid for Italy's Serie A title after a pulsating 2-1 win over Fiorentina moved them up to third in the table yesterday.
City rivals Inter and AC Milan had both failed to win at their shared ground in their first three league games, prompting Italian media to suggest both were subject to a San Siro curse.
But after Milan shook that monkey off their back with a 2-0 home win over Cagliari in midweek, Inter followed suit with a solid performance which gave Andrea Stramaccioni's side a fourth win in six games.
Juventus, who hammered Roma 4-1 Saturday to extend their unbeaten streak to 45 games, now sit top on 16 points with Napoli second on goal difference and Inter and Lazio in third and fourth respectively on 12.
But with Juve involved in the Champions League, Inter and Napoli may be hoping to capitalise.
Diego Milito opened the scoring for Inter in the 17th minute, beating La Viola 'keeper Emiliano Viviano from the penalty spot following a handball.
Antonio Cassano was then left unmarked on the left of the area and following Esteban Cambiasso's dummy he punished Fiorentina's slack marking to double the lead in the 34th minute.
Fiorentina fought back, with Brazilian Romulo sending a powerful header past Samir Handanovic from Chilean David Pizarro's pass in the 40th minute.
Despite Gonzalez Rodriguez being sent off for a second bookable offence on the hour, Fiorentina continued to battle.
Viviano saved the visitors when he pulled off a great save from Milito's close-range snap shot in the 76th minute and then second-half substitute Luca Toni then came close to a late equaliser with a header that went wide.
Stramaccioni was missing Wesley Sneijder, Rodrigo Palacio, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic and MacDonald Mariga due to various injuries, but he was delighted at this side's performance.
Earlier an Edinson Cavani penalty helped Napoli snatch a 1-0 win away to Sampdoria which allowed them to keep pace with Juve as the afternoon fixtures produced a goals frenzy.
But their entertaining match was decided by a disputed second-half penalty, the referee pointing to the spot after Marek Hamsik was tripped by defender Daniele Gastaldello on the edge of the area.
Gastaldello was sent off and Uruguayan hitman Cavani, who scored a hat-trick in a midweek win over Lazio, stepped up to put Napoli into the lead to take his tally to five goals in six games.
While yesterday's early fixture between Udinese and Genoa finished in a goal-less draw, no fewer than 22 goals were scored in six afternoon games.
Diminutive striker Fabrizio Miccoli was the star for 10-man Palermo with three goals and an assist in a 4-1 win at home against Chievo giving the Sicilians their first win of the season.
His master stroke was an audacious volley from almost 40 metres.
Bologna's second win of the campaign was a 4-0 thrashing of Catania, with goals from Tiberio Guarente, Alberto Gilardino (two) and Panagionis Kone.
Torino also got in on the goal-frenzy with a 5-1 win over hapless Atalanta.
Lazio got over their midweek setback against Napoli with a 2-1 home win over struggling Siena while Cagliari suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Pescara to remain the only team without a win in the league.