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Napoli take lead over Atalanta with fantastic Zielinski and Mertens goals

Two tremendous strikes have turned a previously dire game around.

SSC Napoli v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Napoli had a dreadful first half against Atalanta on Sunday, but the second half saw a strong and rapid turnaround, thanks to two tremendous goals from Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens.

This was an absolutely huge strike from Zielinski, who demonstrated tremendous ball control to bring down a poor half-clearance with his chest away from the defender. Once the ball was settled, he unleashed an absolute cannon shot for a goal worth screaming over, and Napoli were level at a time when they desperately needed it.

Then came Mertens’ strike just a few minutes later, this one set up by a lovely bit of combination play. Zielinski popped the ball over the top to Lorenzo Insigne, and he dropped it over the onrushing defenders with a header, and Mertens finished it on the volley with aplomb. It was a “very Napoli” kind of goal to score, switching the ball around and throwing Atalanta’s defense for loops, and Napoli fully deserved their lead based on that goal alone.

It was a huge turnaround after a dreadful start to the match, and it was good for Napoli fans to see them step things up so much after that poor first half. Napoli needed that turnaround, to prove both to themselves and to their fans that they can learn from their mistakes and still put in the kind of performance they’re capable of. Let’s hope for more of the same this season — though hopefully without as much of the bad play that made the comeback necessary in the first place.