David Beckham's second debut for AC Milan was an occasion to savour as the England international started in a 5-2 victory over Genoa on Wednesday night.
Having returned to the Rossoneri on a second loan spell from LA Galaxy, Beckham played in an advanced role as Leonardo's men responded to earlier victories for title rivals Inter Milan and Juventus to remain in the hunt for the Scudetto.
With Inter beating Chievo 1-0 and Juventus securing a 2-1 win over Parma in the first round of Serie A games in 2010, the onus was on Milan to respond, and they did so in style. The Rossoneri therefore remain eight points behind city rivals Inter with a game in hand.
However, Wednesday night's game at San Siro started in inauspicious circumstances as Ronaldinho saw his penalty saved by Marco Amelia after captain Massimo Ambrosini won a dubious spot-kick. Giuseppe Sculli deepened Milan's disappointment when heading Genoa into the lead on 25 minutes.
Ronaldinho made amends on 32 minutes when scoring from 12 yards after Ambrosini had been brought down in the box once more. That was the catalyst for Milan to race away with the game and after Thiago Silva tapped in from close range following a goalmouth scramble, Marco Borriello scored twice, the second a wonderful overhead kick.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came off the bench to score his third Serie A goal of the season after Milan were awarded a third penalty of the evening but David Suazo, on loan from Inter Milan, wrapped up the scoring when drilling a fine shot past Dida on 79 minutes to give Genoa a late consolation.
Earlier in the day, Serie A leaders Inter Milan picked up where they left off with a narrow 1-0 victory over Chievo in the first match after the winter break.
Balotelli struck in the 12th minute to settle the contest in favour of the Serie A leaders, whose defender Chivu suffered a fractured skull in a clash of heads with Chievo captain Sergio Pellissier in the opening moments of the second half and was taken to hospital.
Goran Pandev also impressed when making his debut following a move from Lazio. The striker headed the ball into the corner of the net but replays confirmed the ball had already crossed the line and it was Balotelli's goal.
The victory moved Inter nine points clear of Juventus, who won 2-1 at Parma. A 39th-minute own goal from Paolo Castellini helped ten-man Juve claim just their second win in seven games at Stadio Ennio Tardini. The defender headed into his own goal after the hosts had failed to clear a corner
Hasan Salihamidzic had headed Juve into an early lead before veteran forward Nicola Amoruso grabbed an equaliser for Parma, but they were unable to find another even after Martin Caceres was sent off in the 73rd minute and slipped to sixth.
Cagliari scored in the 90th minute and again in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw and deny Roma the chance of moving up to third. A David Pizarro penalty and a Simone Perrotta effort had put the Giallorossi on course for all three points in the second half, but, not long after Luca Toni came on to make his Roma debut, Diego Lopez pulled one back for the Sardinians and Daniele Conti then equalised.
Napoli continued their push for European football next season by moving up to fourth with a 2-0 victory at Atalanta. Fabio Quagliarella set the Partenopei on their way with the opening goal after seven minutes and Michele Pazienza made the points safe 13 minutes into the second half, as Atalanta dropped to 19th.
Fiorentina won the Tuscan derby in style with a 5-1 hammering of basement boys Siena. Per Kroldrup, Mario Alberto Santana and Alberto Gilardino put the visitors in the driving seat in the first half before the returning Adrian Mutu and a second for Gilardino completed the rout. Massimo Maccarone's late penalty was barely any consolation for Siena.
Bari won 2-0 at home to Udinese thanks to a goal in each half from Riccardo Meggiorini and Vitor Barreto. Simone Pepe came closest to levelling for the visitors when he hit the crossbar just before the break.
Sergio Floccari made a huge splash on his Lazio debut by scoring twice in a 4-1 victory over Livorno. Martin Bergvold put Livorno in front in the seventh minute before Floccari, signed on a six-month loan deal from Genoa this week, stole the show.
The 28-year-old levelled shortly after the re-start and put his new team ahead in the 54th minute. Substitute Tommaso Rocchi and Aleksandar Kolarov with a penalty added further goals to make it a convincing win for Lazio. Livorno had Romano Perticone sent off in the 90th minute.
Sampdoria came from behind to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Palermo. The Blucerchiati had won just once in their last eight fixtures coming into this game and found themselves trailing to Edison Cavani's strike five minutes before the interval. Palermo's lead was short-lived, though, with Antonio Cassano providing the perfect response a minute later.
Sinisa Mihajlovic saw his Catania side move up to third from bottom with a 1-0 victory over former club Bologna, Nicolas Spolli with the only goal of the game nine minutes from time.