It was a total disaster for Napoli, who fell to a third consecutive defeat and saw Goran Pandev sent off as Atalanta conquered the San Paolo.
The Partenopei’s defeat at Lazio left their hopes of Champions League qualification hanging by a thread. To make matters worse, the defence had to be completely reshuffled, as Paolo Cannavaro, Miguel Angel Britos and Camilo Zuniga were suspended with Christian Maggio and Marco Donadel injured, Gokhan Inler rested. Former Napoli flop German Denis returned to the San Paolo, though Atalanta’s confidence was also hit by a surprise home loss to Siena. Thomas Manfredini was suspended with Matteo Brighi, Guido Marilungo and Daniele Capelli injured.
Atalanta took the lead with their first chance of the game. Simone Bonaventura combined with a teammate to slice the defence apart and scored a sensational strike on the half-volley from a tight angle, flashing across Morgan De Sanctis and in off the post.
Napoli equalised almost immediately with Pocho Lavezzi. Goran Pandev burst through the middle and spread the play for Lavezzi, whose first angled drive was parried by Andrea Consigli, but the Argentine got the follow-up on target.
It was almost 2-1 to Napoli by the 17th minute, as Consigli flew to fingertip an Edinson Cavani free kick out from under the bar. De Sanctis also needed a strong save to keep out the Denis set play.
For the second half, Hugo Campagnaro and Gianluca Grava changed positions in defence, the Argentine moving to the right side of the three-man set.
However, Atalanta restored their lead after the restart thanks to a defensive error. Ezequiel Schelotto smartly passed to the right side of the box, where Giampaolo Bellini was left totally and utterly unmarked to volley in.
A Maxi Moralez curler whistled just wide, prompting the San Paolo crowd to begin murmuring their displeasure.
The grumbling turned to jeers when Atalanta added a third to their tally, as Carlos Carmona hit an unstoppable very low volley from distance that arrowed into the near bottom corner past De Sanctis’ outstretched hand.
It got even worse for Napoli, as Pandev received a red card for kicking the back of Moralez’s legs in a completely unnecessary move after the ball had gone.
Atalanta nearly got a fourth with the Bonaventura angled drive thumping the upright and Napoli visibly gave up in the closing stages.
Sent off: Pandev 70 (N)