Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata inspired a thrilling 4-2 Atalanta victory over decimated Napoli, but there was also a huge scare for Victor Osimhen in stoppages.
This was a head-to-head for fourth place, but the Partenopei’s injury crisis deteriorated further, as after losing Hirving Lozano, Dries Mertens, Andrea Petagna, Kostas Manolas, Diego Demme, Elseid Hysaj and David Ospina, just before the game Lorenzo Insigne also pulled out with back pain. Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam returned after COVID, but weren’t fit to start. Hans Hateboer was the only Atalanta absentee.
These teams met in the Coppa Italia semi-final a couple of weeks ago, La Dea winning 3-1 on aggregate.
Atalanta had penalty appeals on 17 minutes after Luis Muriel went on a mazy run to send Matteo Pessina through and the Italian went down under pressure from Mario Rui, but the referee waved play on. Gian Piero Gasperini continued his protests for several minutes, earning a red card.
Robin Gosens fired wide on a Marten de Roon through ball, while Pierluigi Gollini fingertipped a Victor Osimhen header over the bar.
Duvan Zapata’s terribly heavy first touch ruined a great move created by Pessina, prodding it straight at Alex Meret from six yards.
The breakthrough finally came when the two Colombian forwards combined, as Muriel got down the left and stood up a cross for Duvan Zapata’s towering header from six yards.
Napoli threw on Insigne and got back on track with a moment of magic, as Politano floated his pass over the top, Piotr Zielinski watched it go over his shoulder and volleyed with his right foot from 10 yards.
Pessina’s effort was deflected over after a well-worked team move, but Atalanta restored their advantage when Muriel went on a slalom through defenders, spread it to the right for Duvan Zapata, who pulled it across the six-yard box for Robin Gosens to as always come sliding in at the back post.
Insigne sprung the offside trap only to be denied by a desperate Berat Djimsiti block, but Atalanta extended their lead even further thanks to an absolutely extraordinary goal from Muriel.
Tiemoue Bakayoko gave the ball away cheaply in the final third, the striker didn’t need to be asked twice, as he twisted and turned to make defenders dizzy before blasting into the near top corner from an angle that seemed improbable.
The crazy half continued, as moments later Napoli got back to 3-2 when a corner was taken short and Politano’s cross found what was meant to be a Gosens header to clear, but instead it went into his own net.
Meret made a one-handed save on Muriel at the near post and on the resulting Muriel corner, Djimsiti flicked on the ball for a Cristian Romero header.
There was drama of a different kind in the final minute, as Osimhen fell awkwardly and bumped the back of his head on the ground. He seemed to lose consciousness and was rushed off on a stretcher to a nearby ambulance.
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