Diego Milito scores Inter's third goal as his team get back to domestic form [AFP]

Serie A leaders Inter Milan scored three first-half goals to beat lowly Udinese 3-2 away and maintain their four point lead at the top of the table.

Inter were losing momentum after three straight domestic draws had slashed their advantage but battled back to establish a four point lead above second-placed AC Milan, who beat Atalanta 3-1.

Mario Balotelli, Maicon and Diego Milito scored after Simone Pepe had given Udinese an early lead.

Antonio Di Natale converted a penalty shortly after the restart, but Jose Mourinho's team held on for the win.

Alexandre Pato scored twice in the first half as AC Milan comfortably beat Atalanta.  Jaime Valdes responded for Atalanta, but Marco Borriello found the net to secure the win for Milan.

Injury-hit AS Roma in third slipped seven points behind Inter after surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Napoli, who equalised through Marek Hamsik's stoppage-time penalty.

Inter lead Italy's league with 58 points, AC Milan are on 54 and AS Roma are third with 51 points. Palermo moved up to fourth with 43 points after a 2-0 win at Juventus, courtesy of goals from Fabio Miccoli and Igor Budan.

Suspensions

Inter were without the suspended Walter Samuel, Ivan Cordoba, Esteban Cambiasso and Sulley Muntari following last weekend's fiery 0-0 draw with Sampdoria and had coach Jose Mourinho banned from the bench.

Midfielder Thiago Motta was forced to play in central defence and Kenya winger McDonald Mariga was handed a first start while struggling Samuel Eto'o was still only a substitute.

Udinese, four points above the drop zone, had a great start when Simone Pepe rifled in after Antonio Di Natale's pass but Inter were soon level thanks to Mario Balotelli's angled shot from the edge of the area on six minutes.

Right back Maicon then put the visitors 2-1 up after a fine move midway through the first half and Diego Milito, who grabbed the opener in the midweek Champions League win over Chelsea, headed the third just before the break.

Serie A topscorer Di Natale scored a penalty early in the second period after a handball to set up a nervous finale.

Slow start

Results & fixtures

Saturday February 27

 Catania 4-0 Bari
 Lazio 1-1 Fiorentina

Sunday February 28

 AC Milan 3-1 Atalanta
 Chievo 2-1 Cagliari
 Genoa 3-4 Bologna
 Juventus 0-2 Palermo
 Livorno 1-2 Siena
 Napoli 2-2 Roma
 Parma 1-0 Sampdoria
 Udinese 2-3 Inter Milan

At San Siro, Milan made a slow start but led 2-0 at half-time through two Pato goals.

The first came in the 30th when he volleyed in Massimo Ambrosini's cross and his second followed in 41st when Ronaldinho chipped over the defence for him to round Andrea Consigli and score.

Valdes brought Atalanta back into the match with a long range shot, but Borriello made it 3-1 when he was first to the rebound after Consigli had blocked a penalty from Ronaldinho.

Roma lost ground with their 2-2 draw at Napoli.

Julio Baptista and Mirko Vucinic put Roma 2-0 ahead, but German Denis brought Napoli back into the match in the 75th minute and Marek Hamsik scored an injury time penalty for a share of the points.

Genoa missed the chance to move level with Juventus when they were beaten 4-3 at home by strugglers Bologna, who triumphed thanks to Adailton's hat-trick, while Sampdoria could have gone clear in fourth but for a 1-0 loss at Parma.

Mid-table Chievo overcame Cagliari 2-1 while bottom side Siena boosted their outside hopes of avoiding the drop with a last-gasp 2-1 win at relegation rivals Livorno in the Tuscan derby. 

Source: Agencies