Goals from Josip Ilicic, Borja Valero and Joan Verdu secured a 3-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday as Fiorentina maintained their purple patch to go two points clear of Inter Milan at the top of Serie A.
On the day stuttering champions Juventus finally ended their quest for a first home win at the fourth attempt, Fiorentina showed their 4-1 humiliation of early season pacesetters Inter Milan last week was no flash in the pan.
La Viola now sit two points ahead of Inter with Lazio, who saw Keita Balde and Filip Djordjevic strike late to secure a precious 2-0 win at home to Frosinone, moving up to third, a point further adrift.
Roma own fourth spot, one more point back, while Napoli moved up to sixth place, Maurizio Sarri’s men now just six points adrift after a crushing 4-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro.
Allan opened the scoring after just 13 minutes and Lorenzo Insigne hit a second half brace before Rodrigo Ely’s own goal in the 77th minute prompted AC Milan fans to leave the San Siro in droves as the Rossoneri suffered their worst defeat of the campaign so far to remain 11th, nine points off the pace.
Napoli have now beaten Lazio (5-0), Juventus (2-1) and Milan prompting Sarri to say: “It was a crucial win for us and I’m proud of the enthusiasm shown by the lads.”
Eyebrows were raised among Fiorentina’s fans when former FC Basel coach Paulo Sousa was brought in to replace Vincenzo Montella following his sacking at the end of last season.
But the Portuguese coach, a former midfielder who spent two season at Inter Milan, has won fans and pundits over quickly.
A week after seeing an early opener from Ilicic and a hat-trick from Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic destroy Inter, Ilicic was on target from the spot after just six minutes after Gabriel Paletta saw red for a foul on Jakub Blaszczykowski.
Spanish forward Valero doubled Fiorentina’s lead by the 34th minute and Verdu came off the bench to convert Kalinic’s assist at the death as Fiorentina claimed their sixth win in seven games.
It is Fiorentina’s best ever start to the season and Sousa, who calmed talk of the title last week, told Mediaset: “The lads are carrying out my instructions to the letter, sometimes even better than I expect.
“They know how to approach games even when we haven’t had much time to prepare. The performances are good, the lads are full of belief and the results have followed.”
Champions Juventus remain well off the pace at 10 points adrift, but a convincing 3-1 win over newly-promoted Bologna helped the stuttering Bianconeri turn the corner amid what has been a woeful start to the campaign.
On Sunday, fans must have been fearing it was deja vu when Anthony Mounier’s strike rolled past Gianluigi Buffon in the fifth minute, although the ‘keeper’s blunder was plain to see.
But a superb header from Alvaro Morata levelled the game on 33 minutes and, after Paulo Dybala’s 53rd minute penalty, Sami Khedira wrapped up the points with his maiden league goal for the club 10 minutes later to restore fans’ belief.
Juve moved up to 12th, at 10 points adrift, and coach Massimiliano Allegri said: “It was crucial to get our first win at home.
“But we’re not thinking about our deficit. We have to knuckle down, work hard and we’ll take stock of things at Christmas.”
Earlier Sunday Inter claimed an undeserved share of the points in a 1-1 draw away to Sampdoria, who spurned several great chances in the opening half before after Luis Muriel’s 51st minute opener.
Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic came to Inter’s rescue in the 75th minute when he stuck his foot out to guide the ball past Emiliano Viviano in the Sampdoria goal.
Fellow scudetto hopefuls Roma made amends for their 3-2 Champions League defeat away to BATE Borisov with a resounding 4-2 win at Palermo, where Gervinho notably hit a brace to confirm his return to form after nearly a year without a league goal.