Napoli moved back up to second place and within two points of Serie A leaders Roma after a comprehensive 4-0 win over Livorno on Sunday.
Roma had taken their record to seven wins out of seven with a stunning 3-0 defeat of Inter Milan at the San Siro on Saturday to leave the Nerazzurri seven points adrift.
However Napoli seized their chance against league new boys Livorno to close the gap and heap pressure on third-placed Juventus, who host Milan in one of two late games on Sunday.
With Gonzalo Higuain still sidelined, Napoli coach Rafael Benitez handed Goran Pandev a place in his starting line-up and the Macedonian needed only three minutes to repay the Spaniard by putting the hosts in front.
After Livorno had threatened through Nigerian-born Swiss Innocent Emeghara, Pandev missed doubling the hosts’ lead when he fired over Francesco Bardi’s crossbar.
Napoli had the momentum but when Gokhan Inler scored the hosts’ second on 26 minutes he got a helping hand, quite literally, from Bardi, who after getting his hands to the long-range drive allowed it to bounce over him and into the net.
Emeghara spurned the chance to reduce the arrears when he hit a stunning volley on the stroke of half-time which came off the Napoli woodwork.
It was a miss Livorno lamented barely 10 minutes after the restart when Jose Callejon collected Pandev’s through ball to beat Bardi with an angled drive which appeared to take a slight deflection.
Bardi kept out a curling free kick by Belgian international Dries Mertens and another long-range strike by Inler.
But in the dying minutes the Italy under-21 goalkeeper could only parry a shot by Lorenzo Insigne into the path of Marek Hamsik, who promptly netted to claim his fifth goal of the campaign.
Juventus remain third but are now under pressure for a win that would move them level on points with Napoli, while defeat for Milan would heap further pressure on Massimiliano Allegri’s injury-hit side.
Due to results elsewhere on Sunday, Milan have dropped to 12th and already sit 13 points off the pace.
Verona, Udinese and Parma all scored precious wins to maintain respective positions in the table after a shaky start to the season.
Verona, who stunned Milan in their season opener last month, thumped struggling Bologna 4-1 away to leave the hosts second from bottom and one only of only three teams, along with Sassuolo and Sampdoria, who are without a win in seven games.
The win moved Verona up to fifth ahead of Sunday’s late games when Lazio or Fiorentina could overtake the Serie A new boys.
Udinese climbed into the top half of the table thanks to a 2-0 home win over Cagliari with goals coming courtesy of Danilo and Antonio Di Natale.
Former Inter Milan striker Antonio Cassano scored Parma’s third in a 3-1 home win over promoted strugglers Sassuolo.
Torino spurned the chance to move up to seventh when Eder scored an injury-time penalty at the death to snatch a 2-2 win for hosts Sampdoria after Alessio Cerci had given the visitors a 76th minute lead from the spot.
Cerci’s sixth strike in seven games leaves the Italian leading the Serie A scoring charts.