Atalanta Xi: Musso, Scalvini, Palomino, Djimsiti, Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta; Koopmeiners, Malinovskyi, Muriel.
Napoli Xi: Ospina, Zanoli, Jesus, Koulibaly, Mario Rui, Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski, Politano, Mertens, Insigne.
Score: Atalanta 1 Napoli 3
Scorers: Insigne (14′) Politano (38′) De Roon (58′) Elmas (81′)
With 8 games to go, there was just 3 points in the race for the Scudetto. But Napoli would need to focus on the present against Atalanta; an out of form team that had the ability to do damage, they had already beaten the Partoneipei earlier this season.
Atalanta had been on a disappointing run of form, drawing to relegation battlers Genoa, but they still had a Europa league caliber team who were capable of anything. They were hoping to see the return of former Napoli striker Duvan Zapata but the marksman could only make it back to the bench.
Napoli had been heavily dependent on the resurgent Osimhen, who had scored 4 in his last 2 games, but lost him to suspension along with the everpresent Rrahmani. They also missed Di Lorenzo, Meret and Petagna to injury. This meant an unfamiliar Napoli XI, not only did Jesus return to the defense but the youngster Zanioli got a rare appearance at right back with Mertens leading the line.
The game started with the home team gathering momentum, in the 6th minute a glancing Malinovski header almost made it past the sprawling Ospina but the Columbian managed to keep it out.
Despite the Atalanta control Napoli would get the opportunity to take the league. A clever run from Mertens was only stopped illegally in the Atalanta box by the sprawling Musso. The outgoing captain Insigne stood up to take it and dispatched the goal into the corner.
For the next 20 minutes or so, Atalanta had the most of the possession once again trying to chip away at this dogged Napoli defense that had been so impressive this season.
Lobotka would be the next Napoli player to go on a dangerous run, seeing a hole open in the Atalanta defense, the Slovakian with a turn of speed almost made it into the box before being brought down.
The ensuing freekick brought Napoli’s second. Insigne turned provider with a deft freekick pass over the wall taking everyone by surprise, aside from the oncoming Politano who fired a classy over-the-shoulder volley into the back of the net.
Spalletti’s men finally had momentum and it began to show as Koulibaly led the press and won the ball back in the Atlanta box, but Musso comfortably made a save.
Atalanta went out of the 1st half and into the 2nd with all the stats apart from the score. They would continue their ceaseless attack and hope to break through.
They believed they had a penalty early on but the ref deemed Muriels’ coming together with Aguissa to be purely accidental.
They would get their goal in the 58th minute, the sub Mirancuk curled a sublime cross into the box for Marten De Roon to place his header away from Ospina and into the Napoli net to make it 2-1.
Things suddenly got more exciting for neutrals coming into the final 30 minutes as Atalanata pressed their attack. De Roon was able to penetrate once again with a direct dribble, but this time he could only fire it over.
Jeremey Boga found himself in space on the edge of the box and tried to curl the ball in, which took an instinctive save from Ospina to repel over the bar.
But astonishingly once again, despite all the Atalanta control, Napoli scored another. Koulibaly intercepted a ball into the box and fired a pin point long ball to the speedy sub Lozano, who took the ball all the way to the Atalanta box and crossed to Elmas who cooly passed the ball into the back of the net.
When the final whistle blew, Napoli had made a statement. They had gone away to a difficult fixture with a depleted team and had come away proving that they could do it without Osimhen. The next 24 hours would be very interesting as the remaining top clubs battled but Napoli had done what they could. Onto Roma!