Champions Inter Milan came unstuck on the road, while AC Milan slipped up at home in a five-goal thriller.
Juventus secured a morale-boosting success in their first game without Claudio Ranieri and Fiorentina maintained their grip on fourth spot.
The biggest shock of the day came at Cagliari, though, where Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan slipped to a 2-1 defeat.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired the Nerazzurri in front after just eight minutes, but saw that advantage wiped out by Andrea Cossu 11 minutes before the interval.
Robert Acquafresca that sealed a first win in six outings for Cagliari when he grabbed the winner after 71 minutes.
AC Milan slip to third in the Serie A standings after a 3-2 defeat at home to Roma.
John Arne Riise's 36th minute opener looked for a long time as though it would prove to be the decisive strike in the contest.
However, a frantic last 15 minutes saw Massimo Ambrosini level matters, Jeremy Menez restore Roma's lead (80) and Ambrosini restore parity once again (81).
Roma talisman Francesco Totti then put the seal on a topsy-turvy encounter when he lashed home a fabulous free-kick five minutes from the end.
With tempers running high, Ambrosini then spoiled his afternoon when he was given his marching orders on 88 minutes.
Juventus secured a first win in eight games after they prevailed 3-0 at Siena, moving them up to second.
An Alessandro del Piero penalty on 33 minutes, a further effort from Ruben Olivera (48) and a second from Del Piero (89) handed caretaker boss Ciro Ferrara the perfect start to life in the Juve hot seat.
Udinese had claimed six consecutive victories heading into their game at Sampdoria, but could not build on that success as they were held 2-2.
Gaetano D'Agostino had Pasquale Marino's side in front from the penalty spot on 13 minutes, but a Mauricio Isla own goal (32) and a further spot kick from Antonio Cassano (44) turned the tie on its head.
Felipe did snatch an equaliser on the hour-mark, but it mattered little to two teams destined to finish the season in the midst of mid-table.
Catania bounced back from the indignity of suffering four straight defeats with a dramatic 3-1 win over Napoli.
The men from Naples went ahead through Mariano Bogliacino on 27 minutes, but failed to hold onto that lead.
Takayuki Morimoto pulled the scores level four minutes before the interval, before late efforts from Giuseppe Mascara (pen 88) and Vito Falconieri (90) brought welcome relief to the Angelo Massimino Stadium.
Fiorentina found life difficult on the road at Lecce, but sent their opponents heading towards Serie B after claiming a 1-1 draw.
Simone Tiribocchi (50) appeared to have given hope to the hosts' fading survival dreams, but it was not to be.
Felipe Melo was dismissed for Viola with two minutes left on the clock, appearing to end their quest to take a point, but Martin Jorgensen struck in injury-time to break Lecce hearts.
Genoa moved to within two points of the UEFA Champions League places with a 3-2 win at Torino.
Diego Milito fired them in front from the spot on 33 minutes, but Ivan Franceschini equalised five minutes before half time.
Ruben Olivera then restored the visitors' advantage on 48 minutes, only to see Rolando Bianchi level matters once again two minutes later.
A thrilling finale to the contest then saw Milito grab his second of the game, to take the points, while Ignazio Abate saw red for Torino in stoppage time.
Two inconsistent sides, in Atalanta and Palermo, could not be separated as they played out a 2-2 draw.
The away side took the lead, through Davide Succi (32), only to then fall behind to a brace from Gianvito Plasmati (50 & 67).
Palermo displayed admirable resilience, though, and took a share of the spoils thanks to Fabrizio Miccoli (75).
The final game on a busy afternoon of action in Italy saw Chievo and Bologna play out a forgettable goalless draw.