Milan, Feb 20: Sulley Muntari scored on his AC Milan debut in a 3-1 victory at struggling Cesena on Sunday, taking his new team back to the top of Serie A.
Muntari opened the scoring in the 29th minute and Urby Emanuelson doubled Milan's lead two minutes later. Robinho added a third 10 minutes into the second half.
Daniel Pudil grabbed a consolation for Cesena, which remains seven points adrift of safety after Siena lost 4-1 to Lecce in a relegation battle.
Milan is a point above Juventus, which has a game in hand. The two teams meet in a mouthwatering clash next weekend.
"Up until 3-0 today the boys played a great game," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Then we gave Cesena too much initiative and we sat back too much. We didn't push forward any more.
"I hope we have everyone available for Juventus but whoever plays will do well in any case. Now we have a week to prepare for that test, it will certainly be a fascinating game."
Elsewhere, Roma captain Francesco Totti played his 700th game for the club to help it edge out Parma 1-0, with Fabio Borini scoring the only goal. Lazio was routed 5-1 at Palermo.
Milan was in control throughout and the defending champion went in front when Thiago Silva whipped in a free kick that Francesco Antonioli failed to hold, allowing Muntari — who signed on loan from bitter rival Inter Milan last month — the easiest of tap-ins.
The visitors doubled their lead two minutes later when Emanuelson dribbled toward the Cesena goal before unleashing a wicked effort that flew into the back of the net from the edge of the area.
It could have been more for Milan with Maxi Lopez hitting the post, but instead Cesena almost got back into the game seconds after the break when Adrian Mutu headed over the bar from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Milan extended its advantage when Robinho latched onto Ignazio Abate's pass, raced into the area and slotted the ball into the far corner.
Cesena scored in the 65th when Pudil drilled an effort into the bottom right corner from just outside the area.
Cesena slips to the bottom of Serie A after Novara, which started the day last, drew 0-0 with Atalanta in an entertaining match full of chances for both sides.
Novara midfielder Simone Pesce was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.
Lecce boosted its hopes of survival after coming back from a goal down. Cristiano Del Grosso put Siena in front when he lashed in Angelo's cross from six yards.
However, the lead lasted just seven minutes. Gianluca Pegolo did well to parry David Di Michele's fierce strike but could do nothing to prevent Luis Muriel's effort from flying into the bottom right corner.
Lecce was awarded a penalty midway through the second half after Muriel had eluded four men as he raced toward goal before he was brought down in the area by Alessandro Gazzi. Di Michele converted the penalty, drilling the ball into the bottom left corner.
Juan Cuadrado sealed the result with a solo effort eight minutes from time. He raced more than half the length of the pitch and beat several defenders before lofting the ball over Pegolo.
Davide Brivio added a fourth deep into stoppage time, curling a free kick in under the crossbar, three minutes after Manuele Blasi had been sent off for kicking out at Siena striker Mattia Destro.
In Rome, Totti was presented with a special plaque before kickoff to commemorate his achievement. Fernando Gago raced down the right flank before picking out Borini, who sped into the area and fired into the far corner.
Roma could have extended its lead but was hindered by a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Antonio Mirante.
Lazio had snuck up to third following three victories in its past four games, and Edgar Barreto, Massimo Donati and Matias Silvestre gave Palermo a solid halftime lead. Lazio had come back from two down to win against Cesena last weekend, but there was no way back after Igor Budan and then Fabrizio Miccoli extended Palermo's advantage five minutes after the break.
Lazio defender Andre Dias was sent off in the 73rd. Miroslav Klose scored for the visitors five minutes from time.
Chievo Verona beat Genoa 1-0 thanks to Cyril Thereau's strike on the half-hour mark, and Udinese drew 0-0 against Cagliari.