It was a topsy-turvy thriller that saw Serie A leaders Napoli come back from a goal down to go in front, then eventually lose 3-2 to genuine Scudetto challengers Atalanta.
The pressure was on the Partenopei, as Milan and Inter already won earlier today, leapfrogging them in the table. It’s incredibly tight up there now, as Milan lead on 38, Inter 37, Napoli 36 and Atalanta 34 points.
Lorenzo Insigne, Kalidou Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz, Victor Osimhen, Kostas Manolas and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa were all injured, so Luciano Spalletti (in the stands after a red card for dissent) switched to a 3-4-3 formation. La Dea had won four on the bounce, despite still missing Robin Gosens and Matteo Lovato.
It took just seven minutes to break through, as Duvan Zapata ran onto a long Jose Luis Palomino ball over the top, held off Amir Rrahmani and pulled back to the edge of the box for Ruslan Malinovskyi to blast in off the underside of the bar.
There was a huge chance to equalise when Mario Rui flashed a ball across the face of goal, but Hirving Lozano came sliding in and only grazed it from a yard.
Matteo Pessina drilled just wide from another Duvan Zapata lay-off, while David Ospina’s gloves were stung by Davide Zappacosta at the near post.
Juan Musso also did well to smother Lozano’s effort after a Stanislav Lobotka ball floated over the top, while Palomino’s strike was charged down by Juan Jesus.
Napoli equalised when Kevin Malcuit pulled back from the right, Dries Mertens laid it off for Piotr Zielinski, who needed two attempts to finally beat Palomino from nine yards.
Eljif Elmas drilled just wide, but Napoli turned the game around within seconds of the restart. Mertens started the run from his own half and easily out-sprinted Merih Demiral, beating Musso at the near post as the goalkeeper came rushing out. It was the Belgian’s fifth goal in four games.
Atalanta hit back, Duvan Zapata’s glancing header from a Joakim Maehle cross bouncing off the base of the far post.
There was a strange moment when the referee pointed to the spot for Mario Rui handball on a Josip Ilicic attempt. However, he changed his mind after the VAR on-field review, as the defender got it with his foot and it was probably outside the box anyway.
Ospina acrobatically palmed a Demiral header out from under the crossbar, but the Turkish defender got his goal moments later when sprinting onto a Rafael Toloi through ball and blasting into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles.
It was turned around again within five minutes, Ilicic down the right rolling across with the outside of the boot and his teammates were queuing up to meet it, Remo Freuler steering into the far bottom corner from 12 yards.
Malcuit forced a save from Musso at the near post, as did Mario Rui with a free kick from a tricky angle. In stoppages, Mario Rui’s acrobatic volley was charged down and Andrea Petagna turned the rebound over under pressure.
Napoli 2-3 Atalanta
Malinovskyi 7 (A), Zielinski 40 (N), Mertens 47 (N), Demiral 66 (A), Freuler 71 (A)