Napoli lose at home to Atalanta, deposed from top spot

Napoli lose at home to Atalanta, deposed from top spot post thumbnail image

Napoli XI: Ospina, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Malcuit, Lobotka, Zielinski, Mario Rui, Lozano, Mertens, Elmas.

Atalanta XI: Musso, Toloi, Demiral, Palomino, Zappacosta, De Roon, Freuler, Maehle, Pessina, Malinovski, Zapata.

Napoli 2 Atalanta 3

Scorers: Malinovski (7′) Zielinski (40′) Mertens (46′) Demiral (66′) Freuler (71′)

Napoli quite possibly, were limping into a very tricky ordeal this evening. The Partenopei had 6 starters injured, including Captain Insigne, star defender Koulibaly and creative engine Ruiz. Atalanta however seemed to be on the up. They won their previous 4 including a win away to Juventus. Napoli due to injuries had adopted a 3-4-3 formation whilst Atalanta was business as usual. 

Napoli did have an in-form Mertens who’s return to form was a welcome distraction from the club’s recent events. Which could be seen from the get go as he forced Atalanta’s goalkeeper Muso into a hurried clearance. 

It was Atalanta however who would strike first. A long ball over the top for Zapata to chase which he easily won from Rrahmani and then laid the ball off to Malinovski who thundered the ball into the top corner. 

Napoli should have scored after a brilliant ball from Rui from the left hand side. His drilled cross was perfectly set up for anyone to tap into the net but the oncoming Lozano was somehow unable to put it into the net, sending the ball wide.

Pessina was the next player to make a penetrating drive into the Napoli box but wasn’t able to convert, firing into Ospina’s arms. 

The young Italian continued to pester Ospina’s goal, after Zapata held the ball off and laid it off, Pessina’s aim was just off as the ball fired wide of the right post.

The Neroazzuri pressed again with a quick counter. Zapata once again giving his former team a horrid time driving the ball forward, found Zappacosta on the right side who drilled the ball on target but Ospina was able to parry and pick up the rebound header from Zapata. 

The ball seemed to become more open with both sides progressing the ball very quickly into their respective final thirds. Both sides would have opportunities to score, the biggest chance falling to Lozano whose deep run found him 1-on-1 but his shot was too weak to affect Muso. 

He would redeem himself. The enterprising winger chased down a long ball which seemed a lost cause, held onto it until reinforcements arrived. Lobotka then managed to get the ball to Malcuit whose cross found its way to Mertens who cushioned the ball to Zielinksi. The Pole’s close-range shot rebounded straight back to himself and he managed to drill it home the second time of asking.

The tense half finally came to an end with the sides equal. 

Napoli would hit the ground running almost immediately. After a hopeful long ball from Malcuit, Mertens expertly beat Atalanta’s offside trap to find himself one on one, slotting the ball past the keeper to make it 2-1.

Atalanta would respond well with a well worked cross to the imperious Zapata, his header striking the post and somehow falling to Rui who could knock it out of the danger zone.

Controversy struck after the referee blew for an Atalanta penalty, when a flying Rui deflected a shot seemingly with his hand. But the replay showed that the ball struck his foot.

A joint header from Zapata and Demiral needed all of Ospina’s reflexes to claw the ball over the goal.

He couldn’t do anything about the next attempt. The Turkish central defender Demiral somehow found himself free down the right wing, and decided to take the chance on himself firing over Ospina and took the roof off the net to equalize.

Atalanta would capitalize on their momentum, Ilicic found space on the right side to run into and found the scarily open Freuler in the box who passed the ball into the back of the net. 3-2 for the visitors.

Malcuit had managed to find himself in on goal for Napoli to equalize but he fired the ball over the goal.

For the time remaining in the match, Napoli were desperately putting the pressure on but failed to see any end result. Ounas embodied this with inventive productive dribbling but sadly no real chances.

They did get their opportunity however. After a good sprint from Politano, he managed to find Petagna after a fortunate rebound, but the striker could only put it over for the final chance of the match.

Napoli had their second blown lead of the week. Which meant they were finally deposed from the top of the table. A valiant effort from the hosts but in the end, Atalanta had the energy and poise to put this game away.