Javier Pastore’s first league goal since September and a Federico Fazio header had the hosts two goals ahead within eight minutes of kick-off and Aleksandar Kolarov rammed home a late third to put Roma five games without defeat as they finally look to have settled under Claudio Ranieri.
Despite a wildly inconsistent season that saw previous coach Eusebio Di Francesco sacked in March, Roma are two points ahead of Milan after a win that would have been more comprehensive had Edin Dzeko’s deflected shot not hit the post 10 minutes after the break.
Should Inter fail to beat their old rivals they will become the fifth team to be dragged into the fight for the Champions League places, alongside Atalanta, Lazio, Torino and Ranieri’s Roma, who are all within eight points of each other.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta, who will have the chance to win just their second-ever major trophy when they take on Lazio in next month’s Coppa Italia final, can move back above Roma when they host strugglers Udinese on Monday.
On Sunday meanwhile Milan travel to Torino on Sunday in a match that could end the surprise top-four challenge from Walter Mazzarri’s tough-to-beat side, and Lazio take on Sampdoria and Serie A top scorer Fabio Quagliarella.
Earlier on Saturday Bologna dealt a huge blow to lowly Empoli‘s survival chances when three second half goals from Roberto Soriano, Riccardo Orsolini and Nicola Sansone saw them come from behind to win 3-1.