|Dejan Stankovic slots home Inter's fifth goal as they keep the scudetto in their sights [GALLO/GETTY]
Midfielder Dejan Stankovic scored a hat trick as Inter Milan ended their run of poor form to beat Parma 5-2 on Sunday in Italy's Serie A.
Inter had played four games without a win, and have struggled with injuries and form, and when Hernan Crespo put Parma ahead with an early goal things again looked bleak for the Italian champions. However, Inter were soon 3-1 ahead thanks to two goals from Stankovic and another from Esteban Cambiasso.
Crespo grabbed his second before half time, but in the second half Thiago Motta came off the bench to make it four for the home side before Stankovic completed his treble.
After Wednesday's Champions League victory over Twente Enschede, the pressure on coach Rafael Benitez was further eased by a battling if fortunate win which sent his side up to fifth.
"It was a mad game," Benitez told Sky Sports.
"We can still aim for the scudetto, the championship still has a long way to run."
Former Inter striker Crespo opened for Parma when he flicked in at the near post after just four minutes.
Serbia's Stankovic equalised on 18 minutes when his shot from just outside the box took a wicked deflection and moments later he performed exactly the same trick to put Inter ahead.
Four minutes later Esteban Cambiasso stabbed in after Jonathan Biabiany headed on a corner from Wesley Sneijder, who looked almost back to his best before suffering a knock.
Crespo pulled one back on 36 minutes after Marco Materazzi's mistake and Parma could easily have equalised in the second half with Angelo hitting the post before fit-again Thiago Motta and Stankovic settled matters with powerful strikes inside the area.
"We came out slowly and conceded an early goal,'' Stankovic said.
"But we reacted in the right way with our goals.''
Inter now trail leaders AC Milan by seven points after their city rivals drew 1-1 at Sampdoria on Saturday, but second-placed Lazio failed to take advantage with influential Brazilian midfielder Hernanes rifling in to grab a 1-1 draw with Catania.
Lazio, three points behind Milan, host Inter on Friday.
Juventus, who were held 1-1 by Fiorentina on Saturday, stayed third after Napoli went down 3-1 at Udinese where Naples-born Antonio Di Natale refused to celebrate after hitting his second hat-trick of the campaign.
Last seaon's Serie A top scorer netted a penalty, a superb swerving long range effort and directly from a corner after an error by Marek Hamsik, who went straight up the other end to fire in a consolation before missing his own spot kick.
Bari stayed bottom after 14 games following a 1-1 draw with promoted Cesena while Cagliari beat struggling Lecce 3-2.
The match between Bologna and Chievo Verona was postponed after heavy snowfall at Bologna's Dell'Ara stadium, while the 0-0 draw between Brescia and Genoa was stopped in each half to allow groundstaff to remark the lines of the pitch after they had become obscured by falling snow.