Victor Osimhen fired Napoli six points clear of the chasing pack on Saturday with his first Serie A hat-trick in a 4-0 thumping of Sassuolo, while in-form Inter Milan beat Sampdoria 3-0 to close in on the top four.
Nigeria forward Osimhen struck twice in the first 19 minutes in Naples and then dinked home his third with 13 minutes remaining to ensure Luciano Spalletti's team extended both their club-record winning streak to 13 matches and their lead on champions AC Milan, who face Torino on Sunday.
The 23-year-old has burst back into the team after over a month out with a thigh injury, rattling in six goals in his last four matches between Serie A and the Champions League.
Saturday's clinical display of finishing took his league tally this season to seven goals in eight appearances and moved him level with Bologna's Marko Arnautovic at the top of the scoring charts in Italy.
"I just want to help keep the momentum going, I want to keep helping my team," Osimhen told DAZN.
"I think this season the coach has given me as much confidence as I can get and I'm really happy to work under him."
Osimhen's first two goals were laid on by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, this year's revelation who also netted the third in an exciting performance on the day Napoli celebrated late club icon Diego Maradona's 62nd birthday, which would have been Sunday.
Georgia winger Kvaratskhelia has scored eight times and set up eight more since arriving in the summer and plays for Napoli with the kind of zest and freedom which few have since Maradona fled Italy in disgrace in the early 1990s.
Napoli are still unbeaten, have netted 50 times in all competitions and are starting to look like the real deal, a team which could end a 32-year wait for the league title for southern Italy's biggest, football-mad city.
Inter are fifth after seeing off Sampdoria 3-0 on a strange night in which their hardcore fans left the San Siro at half-time following the murder of one of the club's most notorious "ultra" supporters not long before kick-off.
Simone Inzaghi's side were on a high after reaching the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, and they are fifth, level on 24 points with third-placed Lazio and Atalanta who both play on Sunday, after their sixth win in seven matches in all competitions.
Inter prevailed thanks to a Stefan De Vrij header midway through the first half, Nicolo Barella's delightful finish just before the break and Joaquin Correa's long range effort in the 73rd minute.
However the Curva Nord section of the stadium stood in silence and then exited en masse at the break in honour of Vittorio Boiocchi, a 69-year-old sentenced in the 1990s to more than two decades in prison for drug trafficking who was shot near his home on the outskirts of Milan.
Italian media report that Boiocchi – who had a criminal record stretching back to the mid-1970s – had been unable to attend Inter matches as he had been banned for his role in clashes before a home match with Napoli in 2018 in which a supporter was killed after being hit by a van.
Nicolo Fagioli gave troubled Juventus a scrappy 1-0 win at Lecce with his first ever Sere A goal in the 73rd minute of a largely uneventful contest.
Juve travelled to Lecce with rumours of a change of manager following their early exit from the Champions League, but the 21-year-old unleashed an unsaveable curling strike which left him on the verge of tears.
"I'm so happy. I'd been waiting my whole life for this moment and to do it in a Juventus shirt was just amazing," he told DAZN.
Fagioli's strike leaves Juve seventh, 10 points back from Napoli, while Lecce stay two ahead of Samp who sit just inside the relegation zone.