Napoli must have been awaiting their Round 4 matchup with anger and resentment. Gennaro Gattuso would have been seething from the harsh indictment shelled out by Lega Serie A and the forfeit decision that robbed them of three points and gave Juventus points for appearing.
? Los 1️⃣1️⃣ para recibir al Atalanta.— Oficial SSC Napoli (@sscnapoliES) October 17, 2020
?? Di Lorenzo
? #ForzaNapoliSempre pic.twitter.com/XTpchiP6Mt
Their rivals Atalanta were in for a rough night, but they must have traveled to San Paolo in high spirits. The three-point affair in the Serie A title challenge was important for both sides to mark their authority and signal their intentions. The Partenopei had impressed in their first two outings but it was the Bergamaschi who had shown attacking superiority.
Both sides had given strong performances and all eyes were directed towards Southern Italy. The match did not disappoint and there was only one true winner and many lessons, not just for the two sides involved but the whole of Italian top-flight football.
Napoli’s 4-1 win puts them alongside Inter as genuine forces to end Juventus’ reign in Serie A. Hirving Lozano’s brace followed by strikes from Matteo Politano and Victor Osimhen all but sealed the affair before the first half finished. Sam Lammers’ second goal in as many fixtures after the break would only serve as a consolatory effort.
If anyone had reservations at how Gattuso would send his men out on the pitch, their questions were answered in the second minute. Napoli would not give an inch and they will play rough. Konstas Manolas brought down Duvan Zapata with a tough tackle that left the referee Marco Di Bello to signal a free-kick.
The possession was equally shared between the two sides in the first quarter hour but the hosts created the more clear cut opportunities. Lozano should have gotten the proceedings started to a more exciting start but his fifth minute effort was wide of the mark. The Mexican would be in the thick of things again but his release to Osimhen was easily gathered by Marco Sportiello.
Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez would try their luck too but their efforts did not threaten David Ospina in the Napoli goal. The Neapolitans aggression held off their guests and it would pay dividends in a blitz where La Dea players were made to look spectators on the pitch.
The first came through an intelligent play by Matteo Politano, who released Giovanni Di Lorenzo in Atalanta’s box. Di Lorenzo squared the ball into the area and it should have been intercepted by Sportiello or the defense. However, it would make its way to Lozano, who tapped it inside. The defense reacted but it was too late.
The Partenopei did not let up and were at the gates again. Their efforts were rewarded four minutes later as they doubled their lead. Lozano was at it again. Osimhen had the defender’s attention that allowed Dries Mertens to capitalize on the long ball. The Belgian maestro sent the Mexican international free, whose shot from outside the left side of the box curled into the top right corner.
Napoli had been the more expressive in attack and their pressing tactics outmaneuvered their northern rivals. But teams gas out and Gasperini and co. would have assumed the Partenopei would. Gattuso’s men were there to disappoint again.
They would add to their lead three minutes later. It was time for someone other than Lozano to get on the scoreboard and entertain the television audiences. Fabian Ruiz gave the ball to Matteo Politano who did everything on his own. The Roman toyed on the right wing before cutting in and unleashed a shot that sailed into the top right corner.
There were no doubts that the bragging rights were going Napoli’s way, but their relentless pressure did not stop. Osimhen should have gotten on the scoreboard in the 33rd minute but he sent his shot wide. He did not have to wait long for his debut Serie A goal. Ten minutes after his wasted effort, the 70 million Euro acquisition got on the end of a David Ospina long ball and his 30 yard strike made it to the bottom left corner of Sportiello’s goal.
The visitor’s dressing room would not have been a decent place to be in at half-time. The midfield and the defense must have gotten an earful. Gasperini must have tackled the subject of how Zapata could not dis-shelve Kalidou Koulibaly. A lot must have been said and it seemed to have worked.
The second half did not see Napoli threaten the goal as much. Atalanta were camped outside the Napoli box but their patience only led to half-chances. Cristian Romero would be their catalyst for their consolation goal. The Argentine defender ventured into enemy territory and released Sam Lammers, who himself ran twenty yard before slotting past Ospina.
The San Paolo would have been buzzing with noise had the fans been allowed but the wait goes on. Napoli have scored 10 goals in their last two appearances at home, impressing with their directness and attacking efficiency. They were the better side and deserve all the plaudits that come their way.
October 17, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 4
SCORERS: 23′ Lozano (N), 27′ Lozano (N), 30′ Politano (N), 43′ Osimhen (N), 69′ Lammers (A)
|NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Koulibaly, Manolas, Hysaj; Bakayoko (75′ Malcuit), Fabian Ruiz (83′ Demme); Lozano, Mertens (75′ Lobotka), Politano (60′ Ghoulam), Osimhen (82′ Petagna) (Meret, Contini, Llorente, Maksimovic, Rrahmani, Mario Rui) Coach: Gattuso
|ATALANTA (3-4-2-1): Sportiello; Toloi, Romero, Palomino (46′ Djimsiti), Depaoli, De Roon, Pasalic, Gosens (81′ Muriel); Ilicic (62′ Malinovksyi), Gomez; Zapata (46′ Mojica) (Rossi, Freuler, Hateboer, Miranchuk, Radunovic, Sutalo) Coach: Gasperini
REFEREE: Mr. Di Bello from Brindisi
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Lozano (N), Toloi, Gosens, Djimsiti (A); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′