Brazilian forward Kaka boosted his World Cup hopes by scoring his 100th and 101st goals for AC Milan in a welcome 3-0 win over Atalanta at the San Siro on Monday.
Kaka is one of several Europe-based stars hoping to nail a place in Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad and did his chances a world of good with two well-taken goals that helped move struggling Milan up three places to 10th.
Mario Balotelli started on the bench with Alessandro Matri spearheading the attack in Massimiliano Allegri's preferred 4-3-2-1 formation, which also featured midfielder Bryan Cristante.
Cristante, making only his second senior appearance, marked the occasion by scoring Milan's third in the 67th minute to virtually secure what was only Milan's second win in their past 10 games and fifth of the campaign.
Before then, Kaka led the charge, scoring his 100th goal for Milan after collecting a pass deep on the left of the area to turn and beat Andrea Consigli with an angled strike at the keeper's far post.
Matri made way for Balotelli just before the hour mark and the Italy striker played a role in Kaka's second, holding off defender Giulio Migliaccio deep on the right to cross for Robinho.
When the ball bobbled in front of the unmarked Brazilian, Kaka promptly took possession to smash the ball past Consigli from close range.
Milan had barely finished celebrating when Cristante added their third, smashing a crisp daisycutter just inside Consigli's far post from the edge of the area.
Kaka was not alone in netting twice, Luca Toni hitting a first-half brace in a 3-1 win for Verona away to Udinese which allowed the visitors to leapfrog Inter into fourth ahead of the Nerazzurri's trip later Monday to Lazio.
Toni opened the scoring after just eight minutes when home goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic was unable to hold the towering striker's strike from the edge of the area.
However there was a hint of offside when Toni ran on to a through ball six minutes before the interval and swept it past the onrushing Brkic as both clashed to the right of goal.
Roberto Pereyra reduced arrears for the hosts when he controlled well amid a crowded box to send a volley past Verona 'keeper Rafael three minutes later.
But Verona restored their two-goal cushion in fine style, Juan Iturbe dragging two defenders with him before sending both, and Brkic, the wrong way with an angled shot from the edge of the area in the 70th minute.
Elsewhere, Gonzalo Bergessio and Francesco Lodi struck one apiece, the latter from the penalty spot, to hand basement side Catania a 2-0 home win over Bologna for only their third win in 18 games.
Alberto Gilardino struck from the spot and Andrea Bertolacci added Genoa's second in a 2-0 home win over struggling new boys Sassuolo, who remain third from bottom.
Ciro Immobile opened the scoring for Torino in the 21st minute at Parma, but from then on it was all downhill for the visitors as Marco Marchionni, Alessandro Lucarelli and Amauri all netted to secure a precious 3-1 home win.
Earlier, a brace from Belgian international Dries Mertens secured a 2-0 win for Napoli over Sampdoria which pushed Napoli to within two points of second-placed Roma.
Napoli's 12th win left them in third with a 10-point deficit to leaders Juventus, who went eight points clear of Roma with a 3-0 rout of the Giallorossi on Sunday.