Atalanta vs Napoli 1-2: Osimhen and Elmas Consolidate Lead

Not even in a city like Naples, where superstition is an art and a cult, (the much-famed scaramanzia) people can hide their ambitions anymore. After toppling Atalanta 2-1 in a quite unprecedented Serie A six-pointer, Napoli and their faithful need to state it loud and clear. This club is mounting a real challenge for the Scudetto. No more scaramanzia allowed. 

The Partenopei came from behind on Saturday night at the Gewiss Stadium, with goals from Victor Osimhen and Elif Elmas that cancelled Ademola Lookman’s spot kick opener. They thus created an eight-point rift between themselves and the chasing pack in Serie A, which only Milan may try to reduce later tonight if they beat Spezia.   

Moreover, they did it by making a full score for the first time without their season talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who suffered an injury out of the blue yesterday. The Partenopei confirmed that Luciano Spalletti’s roster is deep and offer multiple solutions, whereas the lack of changes had been the club Achilles tendon in the past few seasons.  

The game started as a confrontation between Atalanta’s pressing high up the pitch and the Napoli’s fast one-touch passes. The result was a vibrant first half that was a pleasure to watch and a good commercial for the whole Serie A as the game put against each other the top two sides in the league table. 

Atalanta had a strong start and risked scoring early on. Lookman picked Rasmus Hojlund on the counter and served him a golden chance in the middle of the box but the Dane wasted it all. His central shot offered Alex Meret a chance to earn a round of applauses from his supporters but, really, Hojlund should have done better in the occasion.  

Still, the Bergamaschi were the ones to draw first blood, courtesy of a Lookman penalty. It was the consequence of a chaotic action in the Azzurri‘s box, in which a corner kick ball bounced on Osimhen’s stretched arm – as promptly evidenced by the VAR. The Nigerian’s conversion from spot was perfect.

It was another Super Eagles representative, though, to quickly draw level for the visitors. Osimhen confirmed his capocannoniere credentials on 23 minutes, besting a dumbfounded Merih Demiral to head home a left side cross from Piotr Zielinski. 

He then won another round of his confrontation with Demiral a few minutes later, dashing past the Turkish center back with a pure power progression to offer Elmas a ball that only asked to be pushed into the back of the net. Napoli perfected their comeback in the space of just 15 minutes. 

Atalanta had a furious reaction in the second half and collected two chances in the space of three minutes that should have earned them an equalizer. On 52 minutes, Hans Hateboer deflected a Joakim Maehle cross at the far post but missed the target with his conclusion. But the Nerazzurri‘s clearest occasion materialized three minutes later as Meret brilliantly denied Maehle and Lookman hit the crossbar with a close-range tap in. 

Napoli managed to weather the storm and the match pace inevitably slowed down as the minutes passed. Gian Piero Gasperini tried to shake his side up by sending in Ruslan Malinovskyi and a recovering Duvan Zapata in search for his first goal in more than 100 days. 

However, neither the Ukrainian nor the Colombian had a deep impact on the game as they only managed to challenge Meret with a couple of harmless shots from outside the box. Napoli, on the other hand, came closer to adding a third to their tally with substitute Giovanni Simeone, who replaced Osimhen in the last quarter of the game.

It ended with Atalanta protesting vehemently at the referee who conceded too little added time in their view. However, the Partenopei won it with merit, wrapping their nine domestic win in a row and sending another clear message to all contenders on the path that leads to the Italian title. 



November 5, 2022 – Serie A 2022-2023 Round 12

SCORERS: 19′ Lookman (A, pen.), 23′ Osimhen (N), 35′ Elmas (N)

ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Musso; Toloi, Demiral, Scalvini; Hateboer (86′ Soppy), Ederson, Koopmeiners (80′ De Roon), Maehle; Pasalic (70′ Malinovskyi), Lookman (80′ Boga); Hojlund (70′ Zapata) (Rossi, Sportiello, Okoli, Djimsiti, Zortea, Ruggeri) Coach: Gasperini
NAPOLI (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim Min-jae, Juan Jesus, Olivera; Anguissa (93′ Gaetano), Lobotka, Zielinski (64′ Politano); Lozano (64′ Ndombele), Osimhen (75′ Simeone), Elmas (93′ Zerbin) (Marfella, Sirigu, Mario Rui, Ostigard, Zanoli, Zedadka, Demme, Raspadori) Coach: Spalletti
REFEREE: Mr. Mariani from Aprilia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Demiral, Hojlund, Zapata, Toloi (A), Kim Min-jae (N); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 5′
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