Defending champions Inter Milan gave a sign of intent when they crushed Roma 3-1 to move top of Serie A in a miserable return to the San Siro for former manager Jos Mourinho.
Denzel Dumfries, Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martínez scored for Inter and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a late consolation on Saturday.
Inter moved a point above AC Milan, which faces a difficult trip to Lazio on Sunday.
It was the third consecutive game in which Inter had scored three, having done so at Spezia last weekend in the league and on Tuesday in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan.
“I was very worried about this match, because we had given a lot in the derby and today we are up against another great team,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi said. “We needed a top-level performance and the guys were magnificent. This is a crucial victory.”
Roma’s first defeat in 12 league games left them five points behind fourth-placed Juventus.
It was Mourinho’s first Serie A game for Inter as rival manager since he left the club in 2010 after achieving the Italian league, Cup and Champions League treble. Inter beat Roma 3-0 in the Italian capital in December.
The Nerrazzurri also beat Mourinho’s side 2-0 in the Italian Cup quarter-finals in February.
“I love Inter and Inter loves me, but I want to win every game,” Mourinho said. “Now that we don’t have to play Inter, Milan, Juve or Napoli again this season, I can say that I would obviously be happy if Inter wins the Scudetto. But before the game, I want to win and I forget where I’ve been before. I love Inter. but I love Rome and I love my job now. We get paid to win.”
Inter scored first when Dumfries ran into a delightful through ball from Hakan Calhanoglu and put it between the legs of Roma goalkeeper Rui Patrcio.
They doubled the lead five minutes from halftime with a splendid strike from Brozovic, who cut inside past Chris Smalling before sinking into the top right corner.
The game was almost over seven minutes after the break when Martínez went unmarked to head in a corner from close range.
Despite the score, Mourinho was still able to give a small smile and wave as the Inter fans chanted his name in the 72nd minute.
Roma pulled one back when Eldor Shomurodov cut the ball back for a ferocious shot from Mkhitaryan into the top right corner.
Luis Muriel scored one and assisted two others as Atalanta recovered from three straight defeats to win 3-1 at relegation-threatened Venezia.
Mario Paalic scored the opening goal just before halftime and Duvn Zapata doubled Atalanta’s lead three minutes after the break. Muriel entered the record at 63.
Domen Crnigoj scored for Venezia late. The locals also hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed for offside.
Sampdoria moved eight points above the relegation zone after a late goal saved a 1-1 draw at Hellas Verona. Torino beat Spezia 2-1.
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