Juventus slumped to a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Sampdoria, which allowed second placed Milan, who won 4-1 at Messina, to close the gap at the top of Serie A to five points.
Aimo Diana scored the only goal of the game in Turin to inflict only the second defeat of the
Meanwhile, two gaols apiece from Hernan Crespo and Jon Dahl Tomasson were enough to secure the point for Milan against Messina.
The win offers hope to Milan, but coach Carlo Ancelotti admits they stil face a Herculean task to overhaul Juve.
“Five points is still a lot to make up, but it has given us some hope and this championship is full of surprises,” Ancelotti said.
“Beating Messina was very important as it ended a negative run of results. Those two defeats hurt us and rocked our confidence.
“But we went out there today with the right attitude and dominated the match, apart from a brief spell when Messina scored to make it 2-1.”
Juventus coach Fabio Capello defended his team’s performance.
“Francesco Antonioli (Samp Keeper) was the best player on the pitch,” he said.
“We played well, but didn’t get the result we deserved.”
Internazionale remain in third after a 1-0 win over bottom of the table Atalanta at the Giuseppe Meazza.
Obafemi Martins scored the goal which extended Inter’s unbeaten run.
Udinese stay in fourth spot after a comfortable 3-0 win over Chievo, while Roma dropped down to sixth spot after being held to a 1-1 draw by Lecce.
Lazio’s poor run continued as they were held to a goalless draw at home to struggling Brescia and now stand just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Fellow strugglers Siena picked up a valuable point at hoime to Cagliari. The home side raced into a two-goal lead through Enrico Chiesa and Tore Andre Flo, but Diego Lopez pulled a goal back on 58 minutes and Rolando Bianchi scored the equaliser six minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Reggina were held to a 1-1 draw with Livorno, while Fiorentina’s troubles worsened with a 2-1 home defeat to Palermo.
Fiorentina are still in trouble at the wrong end of the table after going down 2-1 at home to Palermo.