Napoli rotated the squad, but it was only when Marek Hamsik came on that they were able to break down Atalanta.
Rafa Benitez rotated the squad ahead of a Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, bringing in Dries Mertens, Paolo Cannavaro and Blerim Dzemaili. Atalanta were without Giampaolo Bellini, Luigi Giorgi and Riccardo Cazzola, but switched to a new 3-5-1-1 system.
The Partenopei unveiled their new camouflage print kit and poured forward from the start, but it was Pepe Reina who needed the first save on Luca Cigarini’s long-range effort.
Goran Pandev had a fantastic scoring opportunity, but Andrea Consigli got down well to beat it off the line with one hand.
Pandev again went close when he fired wide of the near post, but really should’ve passed it to the unmarked Gonzalo Higuain. Consigli also palmed a Giandomenico Mesto daisy-cutter round the post.
German Denis nodded wide against his former club, though the referee had rather harshly already stopped play for a push.
In first half stoppages, Lorenzo Insigne tested Consigli at the base of the near post. Straight after the restart Reina flew for a sensational one-handed fingertip save on a Denis curler.
Higuain controlled Insigne’s assist only to fire over the bar on the half-volley, while Consigli smothered a Gokhan Inler long-range strike.
Mario Yepes got a crucial deflection to turn Pandev’s shot out for a corner, while Atalanta’s Under-21 international Daniele Baselli’s free kick whistled just wide.
Insigne had penalty appeals waved away, but it was Marek Hamsik’s introduction that woke Napoli up. The Slovakian tried to turn in the box and saw his effort charged down, but it ricocheted into the path of Higuain for a curling angled drive into the far bottom corner.
It got worse for Atalanta, as Cigarini received a second yellow card against his former club.
It should’ve been a brace for Higuain, who dribbled into the penalty area and forced Consigli into a save with his legs at the near post. Jose Maria Callejon then came sliding in to hit the side-netting from another Hamsik assist.
Callejon did get his goal soon after, his third in as many Serie A games. It was a wonderful team goal, as Insigne threaded through, Dzemaili backheeled it in the area and Callejon fired home.
Higuain threatened again in the final minute, but his left-foot effort only skimmed the upright.
Sent off: Cigarini 73 (A)