Serie A wrap: Balotelli strikes twice for Milan
Mario Balotelli continued his hot form with a double in AC Milan's 2-0 home win over Palermo in Sunday's Serie A action.
Balotelli has been a hit ever since signing for Milan from Manchester City in the January transfer window and his latest double means he has scored seven goals in just six games for his new club.
Palermo sit bottom of the table and entered the fixture without a win in 15 matches, meaning they were rank underdogs at the San Siro.
And they were behind after just eight minutes when Balotelli gave his side the early lead from the penalty spot.
Palermo battled hard and had nine shots on goal – Milan only had 12 – but they failed to convert the chances that came their way.
Balotelli made them pay with a second strike 24 minutes from time and that was enough as Milan remained two points behind the second-placed Napoli.
The Naples-based club also won, although they left it late in a 3-2 home success against Atalanta.
Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani had not scored in his last nine matches so a fourth-minute penalty was the perfect boost for his confidence.
A Paolo Cannavaro own goal levelled proceedings before half-time but Cavani's second – scored with 25 minutes to go – restored the advantage for Walter Mazzarri's side.
Former Napoli midfielder German Denis silenced the Stadio San Paolo crowd on 73 minutes with another leveller for the visitors.
Napoli were nervous but still went in search of a winner and it came with nine minutes left thanks to Macedonian striker Goran Pandev, to the relief of Mazzarri and the club's fans.
Other results on Sunday saw Fiorentina defeat a 10-man Genoa 3-2 in Florence.
Genoa – who are just a point above the relegation zone – threw away a point when substitute Mattia Cassani scored an own goal with 13 minutes left.
Late goals to Adrian Stoian and Cyril Thereau helped Chievo to a 2-0 win at Pescara while Siena and Cagliari played out a goalless stalemate.
Roma gave their hopes of European football next season a huge boost with a 2-0 home win over Parma, while city rivals Lazio slipped up at Torino.
Erik Lamela gave Aurelio Andreazzoli's team the lead after seven minutes at Rome's Olympic Stadium, with veteran hit man Francesco Totti making sure of the victory in the 70th minute.
Lazio, meanwhile, were undone by a 78th-minute goal from Torino's Brazilian forward Jonathas.
Vladimir Petkovic's side had been undermanned since the dismissal of French defender Michael Ciani in the 16th minute for a second bookable offence, but they were resolute in defence until Jonathas finally found a way through late on.
Roma move to 47 points, level with Inter Milan - who have a game in hand after their clash with Sampdoria was postponed - and Lazio.