Juventus battled to victory in Genoa as Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the winner against Sampdoria with a trademark sublime header.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala put Juventus back on top of Serie A as records fell in a 2-1 victory at Sampdoria.
Brazilian defender Alex Sandro had a hand in both goals for Juventus, a thumping header from Ronaldo after a spectacular leap and a brilliant volley by Dybala, with the Turin giants pulling three points clear of Inter.
Inter, who face Genoa on Saturday, can reclaim first place going into the mid-season break, but this was a night to savour for Juventus.
Gianluigi Buffon could not keep a clean sheet, but the veteran goalkeeper matched Paolo Maldini's all-time record of 647 Serie A appearances, and a 479th outing in the division for Juve meant he broke Alessandro Del Piero's top-flight mark for the Bianconeri.
In Juve's final league game before a near three-week interval, Maurizio Sarri secured his 100th Serie A victory as a coach in what was just his 169th match. No coach has reached that mark in as few games in Italy's top flight so far this century.
Sarri selected a front three again, evidently not as reluctant as he had intimated to field Ronaldo, Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together.
The breakthrough arrived in the 19th minute, with Alex Sandro's out-swinging delivery from the left reaching Dybala on the right side of the penalty area.
Without hesitation, he took the ball on the volley with his left foot and sent a 15-yard shot skidding across goal and into the far corner.
Sampdoria's leveller came after 35 minutes when Gianluca Caprari drilled home from close to the penalty spot after Alex Sandro gave away the ball to Gaston Ramirez on the hosts' right.
Ronaldo restored Juventus’ lead in the 45th minute, rising majestically at the far post to power home another Alex Sandro cross, the Brazilian involved in a third goal of the half.
Portugal superstar Ronaldo was denied what looked a certain third Juve goal early in the second half when Blaise Matuidi inexplicably stepped in front of the talisman to meet a Dybala cross, delivering a clumsy finish that was more of a clearance. Ronaldo looked exasperated.
If anyone was a spare part in the Juventus side, it was Higuain, so it made sense for Sarri to replace him with Aaron Ramsey midway through the second half, fortifying the midfield.
Ronaldo was thwarted late on by an offside flag and then shot a whisker wide, while Sampdoria had Caprari sent off at the death for a second infringement.
What does it mean? Records and goals as Juve make merry
Even without the records for Buffon and Sarri, this would have been a good night for Juventus. The disappointment of losing at Lazio the last time they went on their travels in Serie A was replaced by the satisfaction that comes from imposing such control as they managed for long stretches.
The consolation for 16th-placed Sampdoria was that the home side did create chances, but putting them away remains a crippling problem. Finding a finisher may be a priority in the January transfer market.
To three, or not to three?
Sarri suggested he will use his 4-3-3 formation sparingly, and in Higuain, Dybala and Ronaldo he has three out-and-out attackers from whom he might not get the most defensive work.
On this occasion, Higuain was mostly ineffective as Ronaldo and Dybala constantly tormented Sampdoria. Those two look the coach's best bet going forward.
A performance fit for a Clasico
If Ronaldo was yearning for the glitz and drama of the Camp Nou clash between his old club Real Madrid and Barcelona, it did not show in his focused performance.
Constantly creative, looking to make chances for himself and others, he was a persistent thorn in the side of a Sampdoria defence which was at times powerless against his brilliance. He could easily have had a hat-trick.
Juventus may have wrapped up their pre-Christmas Serie A fixtures, but they have the Italian Supercoppa this Sunday, when they play Lazio in Saudi Arabia. Sampdoria are done for the year, back in action against Milan on January 6.