A review of the weekend's action so far in the Italian Serie A.
Juventus ground out a bad-tempered 1-0 victory over 10-man Catania to pull 14 points clear at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday night.
The reigning champions and likely winners of a third-straight Scudetto have struggled to put lesser opposition to bed in recent weeks and were uninspired when beating the league's bottom side.
Carlos Tevez did send three more points back to Turin with a typically fierce effort in the 59th minute and the chase was beyond Catania once striker Gonzalo Bergessio picked up a second yellow card.
Joaquin's late goal finally broke 10-man Napoli's resolve and saw Fiorentina close to within seven points of third place.
The two clubs were keen to react to Europa League exits in midweek and the match at Stadio San Paolo offered a shot at redemption and rich rewards to both parties.
Rafael Benitez's men were itching to pull 13 points clear in the pursuit of the final Champions League place, which Fiorentina are chasing hard and could now reach over the season run-in.
Any number of players could have unlocked the frantic encounter after Faouzi Ghoulam was sent off but it fell to Spanish winger Joaquin to force the 1-0 win with a header at the death.
AC Milan managed to take an elusive point from their 1-1 draw at Lazio but the immediate future still looks bleak for Clarence Seedorf's ailing side.
The Dutchman can expect to keep his job for the time being after Abdoulay Konko's own-goal ensured Alvaro Dominguez's second-half strike was not enough to condemn Milan to a fourth straight defeat.
Other results on Sunday meant the 18-time champions slumped to 12th in the table, where they lie 42 points behind leaders Juventus and 11 off the nearest Europa League place with nine games to play.
Lazio, meanwhile, remain in seventh place and five points off the European pace.
Giacomo Bonaventura punished Mauro Icardi's failure to grab Inter Milan all three points at San Siro by doing so himself for upwardly-mobile Atalanta.
Icardi equalised almost immediately after Bonaventura opened the scoring shortly before half-time but the Argentinian shot wide of an open goal with two minutes remaining.
Bonaventura duly headed home the winner and it finished 2-1 as Atalanta registered a fourth straight victory that moved them into ninth place in the Serie A table.
Parma missed the chance to move up to fourth after being held at home to a 1-1 draw by Genoa.
Isaac Cofie gave the visitors a lead which lasted just 10 minutes before Ezequiel Schelotto levelled.
Sampdoria put Hellas Verona to the sword and climbed towards the top half of the table with a resounding 5-0 victory at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The Genoese club took full advantage of a limp Verona side who appear to have given up somewhat after reaching 40 points and effectively securing a second season in the top flight.
Two goals from Roberto Soriano plus efforts from Gianluca Sansone, Renan and Angelo Palombo steered Samp to their best victory of the 2013-14 campaign so far and they are now within two points of catching 10th-placed Torino.
It was a third defeat on the spin for Verona, who will struggle to hold onto eighth place having occupied a Europa League berth for most of the autumn.
Bologna claimed a vital win in their battle to stay in Serie A as they beat fellow strugglers Cagliari 1-0.
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos' 78th-minute penalty was enough to seal victory and move Bologna two points above the drop-zone and within three of their opponents.
The win was Bologna's first in five league games while Cagliari were condemned to a second consecutive defeat.
Antonio Di Natale was the only man to get onto the scoresheet as Udinese claimed a 1-0 win over strugglers Sassuolo.
Di Natale gave his side the lead in the 27th minute and they held on to the end, although both sides missed a chance from the penalty spot.
The result leaves Sassuolo three points adrift of safety and second bottom of the overall standings, while Udinese remained in 14th place but are now 10 points clear of third-bottom Livorno.
Roma put six points between themselves and third-placed Napoli on Saturday night thanks to a 2-0 win at Chievo.
Gervinho and Mattia Destro provided the goals for Rudi Garcia's men, both in the first half, as the Giallorossi moved to within 11 points of league leaders Juventus, having now played the same amount of games.
More importantly, though, they have put some daylight between themselves and Napoli in the hunt for Italy's second automatic qualifying berth for the Champions League, which is their more realistic aim for the remainder of the season.
Ciro Immobile fired a hat-trick as Torino halted their four-game losing streak with a convincing 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Livorno .
Immobile, who was surprisingly left out of the team which lost to Napoli a week previously, earned the home side all three points to revive their fading hopes of playing in Europe next season.
Luca Siligardi scored a late consolation for Livorno, who failed to build on their 2-1 win over Bologna last week.