In a relegation dogfight fixture, Delio Rossi went up against his former club but did so without Nenad Krsticic or Andrea Poli.
The visitors took a deserved lead when Steve Von Bergen caught goalkeeper Sergio Romero out, getting a toe to a Fabrizio Miccoli free-kick as Romero assumed the ball was going safely out for a goal kick.
But Palermo were equally guilty at the back for Sampdoria’s equaliser as an avoidable corner kick found Gianni Munari completely unmarked to head home for 1-1.
But Ilicic’s fantastic solo effort on 50 minutes, beating four players in a dazzling advance from midfield before rolling the ball past the outrushing Romero once he arrived in the penalty area.
And another free header from a flag kick made sure of the three points with Miccoli notching another assist, picking out Santiago Garcia at the far post six minutes later.
Miccoli should have got on the scoresheet himself and Ilicic almost replicated his earlier solo efforts but the three points were what mattered as Palermo seek to avoid the drop.
Palermo boss Giuseppe Sannino, who is battling to keep the second-bottom side in the top flight, was not afraid to provide a less glowing appraisal of the Slovenian, saying: "Josip Ilicic has played a great match but he also needs to defend more and be more disciplined."
There were two 0-0 draws on Sunday as Catania were held at home to Cagliari while Siena and Parma also battled to a stalemate.
Udinese meanwhile saw off Chievo 3-1 with Antonio Di Natale bagging a brace.
His first came courtesy of a howler from goalkeeper Christian Puggioni, who tried to use fancy footwork to evade Di Natale as the striker closed him down.
It failed miserably, however, and the veteran mugged him for possession before tapping into an empty net before doubling his side’s lead with a superb left-footed volley from a tight angle.
Paul Papp scored his first Serie A goal to put Chievo back into the contest after his initial header hit the woodwork and Luca Rigoni steered the rebound back into the Romanian’s path to finish the second time.
But after Sergio Pellissier wasted a great chance to equalise, Di Natale added an assist to his impressive performance in the closing stages with a beautiful chipped diagonal ball to Mahdi Benatia at the far post, who volleyed home from close range to make absolute certain for the hosts.
"It was Van Basten style and on his left foot, which is not even his best one," said Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin of his captain's stunning second.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sergio Romero
- Fabrizio Miccoli
- Steve Von Bergen