Napoli earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over Atalanta with Edinson Cavani and Goran Pandev breaking their goal droughts.
The Partenopei were in crisis after four points from five games, while Edinson Cavani hadn’t scored in eight official matches. Paolo Cannavaro and Atalanta’s Carlos Carmona returned from suspension, though Giuseppe De Luca, Ciro Polito sat out bans.
After just three minutes the referee had pointed to the spot, as Luigi Giorgi tripped Juan Camilo Zuniga from behind right on the edge of the box. He ruled that it was inside the area. Cavani stepped up and broke his eight-game goal drought in all competition, firing into the near bottom corner despite Andrea Consigli getting a hand to it. This was El Matador’s first goal since January 27.
Cavani’s diving header was wide, then Goran Pandev completed a give-and-go with Marek Hamsik only to blast off target from 10 yards. Cavani sprung the offside trap from Hamsik’s assist for a chip over the on-rushing goalkeeper, but it was just wide.
Napoli were wasting numerous chances, as Zuniga chipped a cross for Hamsik to nod over from six yards when totally unmarked. Hamsik also had a shot smothered by Consigli.
However, it was Atalanta who equalised in bizarre circumstances. German Denis burst down the right on the counter-attack and his cross was comically fumbled by Giacomo Bonaventura from six yards, but he ended up kicking it on to Cannavaro and the ricochet went into the net.
Moments later Atalanta almost went 2-1 up at the San Paolo, as Carmona’s curling free kick smacked against the crossbar. Hamsik’s finish was too low and central to beat Consigli, as the Partenopei continued to waste chances.
After the restart Pandev hit a half-volley wide, then from a corner Blerim Dzemaili’s powerful strike was on target, but Denis turned defender for practically a goalline clearance.
Cavani at full stretch volleyed past the near post, but on 57 minutes Napoli had a series of shots charged down in the area from Cavani, Pandev and Dzemaili, as Consigli and his defenders were under siege.
Cavani had broken his drought and did it with some style, restoring Napoli’s lead with his brace. Pandev knocked down a long cross and he spun round between two defenders to smash a low drive past the goalkeeper.
It was nearly a hat-trick for the Uruguayan, whose powerful shot stung Consigli’s palms at the near stick.
Instead, Atalanta equalised again with Denis. He ran on to a long ball, his first touch helped him take it away from Valon Behrami and drew out the goalkeeper, depositing a lob into the empty net. The former Napoli striker celebrated in an apologetic manner to the San Paolo crowd.
They were cheering again, though, as Pandev broke his goal drought to tap in from six yards when Pablo Armero rolled across from the left after combining with Lorenzo Insigne. It was the Macedonian’s first goal since October 7.
Insigne fired over when leaning back too much, while Walter Mazzarri and director Riccardo Bigon were sent off for dissent. Hamsik tested Consigli and Stefano Lucchini wasted a good chance from an Atalanta corner.