ROME (AFP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired champions Inter Milan to the top of Serie A with a brace in a 4-0 thrashing of AS Roma in the capital's Olympic stadium on Sunday.
Inter's win gave the scudetto table a more familiar feel after the success of some of the league's minnows that briefly saw Udinese, Catania and Napoli heading the standings earlier in the day.
Udinese are second after coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Lecce while Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho scored twice to maintain AC Milan's revival in a 3-0 win over 10-man Sampdoria.
Catania triumphed 2-0 in the Sicilian derby against Palermo, to go level with Udinese on points alongside Napoli, who beat Juventus 2-1 on Saturday.
Roma welcomed back club captain and talisman Francesco Totti and Brazil defender Juan to their combined presence did nothing to improve Roma's miserable season. Inter coach Jose Mourinho was delighted with what he witnessed.
"Was that the best we've played this season? Yes!" he enthused. "Like we played in the Supercup but this time for the whole match, or rather 80 minutes because the last 10 minutes wasn't really a match any more."
Ibrahimovic put the visitors ahead on five minutes as he latched onto a long ball from Maicon and lobbed Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Doni, who had charged from his line and was out of position.
Two minutes after the restart he doubled the champions advantage as he beat Simone Loria and then fired low past Doni despite Juan's desperate lunge.
The game was over within another 10 minutes as Serbian Dejan Stankovic and Victor Obinna of Nigeria both added stunning strikes from distance.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti complained that the result bore no reflection on the match.
"The result is misleading. We lost concentration a couple of times and they managed to capitalise on them, whereas we didn't," he said. "Inter are a team right now that fight, that run, that play modern football."
Udinese went 2-0 down through Simone Tiribocchi and a Maurizio Domizzi own goal but hit back through Chilean substitute Alexis Sanchez and then Gaetano D'Agostino. Coach Pasquale Marino paid tribute to his team for their comeback.
"I have to say we did really well to react (at 2-0 down) and also once we were level we didn't settle for the draw but kept pushing for the victory right up until the end," he said.
Catania's victory was greatly aided by the sending off of Morris Carrozzieri for a second yellow card at the end of the first half.
Jorge Martinez rose highest in a crowded box to head the opener on 69 minutes and Giuseppe Mascara sealed the victory late on from the spot.
"We'd like to end the championship now," joked Catania coach Walter Zenga, a former Italy goalkeeper.
Milan cruised to victory at home to winless Sampdoria, but only after a terrible refereeing decision handed them a penalty and a man advantage early in the second period.
Slovakian full-back Marek Jankulovski smashed a shot from point blank range into Stefano Lucchini, striking the defender on the forearm.
But the referee awarded a penalty and gave the helpless Lucchini a second yellow card.
Ronaldinho converted the penalty and added the second with a crisp finish before veteran forward Filippo Inzaghi added a third on the stroke of full time.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted the red card had changed the course of the match.
"The 3-0 was a result of Sampdoria having a man less which allowed us more space on the pitch once they had been reduced to 10 men," he said.
It was AC Milan's fifth match without defeat, including four wins, and leaves them amongst a posse of five teams on 13 points, just three behind Inter.
Another of those is Lazio who lost the Serie A lead after a dreadful 3-1 defeat at lowly Bologna.
At the bottom Cagliari won for the first time this season as Robert Acquafresca's late goal secured a 1-0 win at Torino.
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