Former Napoli Striker German Denis netted a brace in a surprise victory for the Nerazzurri. After a goalless first half some dodgy defensive play led to three goals in the second.
The first half was surprisingly uneventful, with Napoli appearing to have the edge but never really worrying Atalanta keeper Andrea Consigli. This may have been due to the benching of Napoli’s two attacking players: Slovenian midfielder Marek Hamsik and Argentine striker
Dries Mertens and Blerim Dzemalli missed difficult half-chances, with 26-year-old winger Jose Callejon burning brightest amongst a lacklustre team. Indeed this first half was summarised by only one shot on target.
However, Atalanta started the second half brightly when German Denis popped up in the 47th minute to fire home, although keeper Jose Reina was largely at fault for letting the shot bounce through his arms and into the roof of the net.
Napoli refused to give up, but the game was all but sealed in the 64th minute when Denis completed his brace. It was, in truth, a howler from Gokhan Inler. With a ball to volley clear 20 yards from his own goal, he hopelessly hooked it back into the penalty area.
The 32 year-old Argentine Denis casually touched the ball onto his knee before dinking the ball over Reina for his second of the night.
The deficit was increased to three goals only six minutes later, when the other Argentine in the Atalanta team Maxi Moralez scored his fourth of the season.
Moralez had a pass nodded in his direction, dummied Federico Fernandez before emphatically finishing. Although Moralez took the chance well, one wonders if a Champions League standard defender should be being beaten that easily.
This meant that if this season’s surprise package Fiorentina had beaten Cagliari by three goals to nil on Saturday (rather than losing 1-0) they could have gone above Napoli into third.
Manager of the Viola, Vincenzo Montella, will see this as an opportunity missed.
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