Napoli beat Atalanta in an...interesting...fashion on Wednesday night to progress in the Coppa Italia. Next up it's Lazio, who'll pay a visit to the San Paolo. But first, let's take a quick look at the win over la dea.
The first half was fun for about fifteen minutes before everyone decided it would be a perfect time to lie down and take a nap. In the 14th minute, to the surprise of just about everyone, Atalanta executed a perfect counterattack, catching Napoli off guard and beating them at their own game.
Yohan Benalouane got the ball rolling, or more precisely, sent a fantastic ball up over the head of Raúl Albiol, landing perfectly for Marko Livaja, lying in wait on the left. The Croat, unimpeded by anything as pedestrian as a Napoli defense, slipped the ball over to Giuseppe De Luca, who neatly finished to give the visitors the lead.
But Napoli got their own back less than a minute later, when José Callejón scored a fantastic goal. Ziggy got on the end of a cross from Anthony Réveillère to send his volley across the face of goal and into the corner of Ciro Polito's net.
That was when the fun ended. As False_N9ne pointed out in the match thread, the rest of the half could be summed up like this: the B squad looks as though they never play with each other. The passes were imprecise, the shots off target, everyone seemed rather out of sync.
Rafa Benítez was then kind enough to take pity on everyone watching at home, putting on Marek Hamšík for Goran Pandev, then Gonzalo Higuaín for Duván Zapata, who really had done much of nothing. With the introduction of Marekiaro, things got more lively...but it was Pipita that made a difference.
In an utterly bizarre manner.
The cross came in with Higuaín miles offside, but instead of trying to deal with the ball, Christiano Del Grosso immediately turned to the linesman, waving his arm in the air. The ball hit the back of Del Grosso's legs and Lorenzo Insigne seized the chance, running in to sweep the ball into the net.
Atalanta players were incensed, as you might well imagine. But they did themselves no favors when Mario Yepes kept going back for more, arguing with the referee and his team. Yepes was shown first one yellow, then another, leaving the visitors down to ten men.
That goal will be tomorrow's talking point, of course, but at least Napoli got another to make things a little less dubious. Gokhan Inler put in the cross and Del Grosso, probably still having his mind on other matters, could do nothing about it, with Callejón tearing up behind him. Ziggy took the ball on the volley once more, this time putting in from close range.