MADRID (Reuters) – Atalanta surged into contention for a top four finish in Serie A with a 2-1 victory at Napoli on Monday.
While second-placed Napoli have 67 points and are six clear of third-placed Inter Milan, Atalanta climbed to fifth with 56 points. They are level on points with AC Milan in fourth and one ahead of sixth-placed AS Roma with five games to play.
Napoli will feel they should have taken at least a point, if not all three, after dominating long spells of the game. But they came away empty handed thanks to their profligate finishing and some excellent defending by Atalanta.
Dries Mertens gave the home side the lead with his 12th goal of the season in the 28th minute. He bundled in Kevin Malcuit’s cross from close range before Duvan Zapata brought Atalanta level with 20 minutes to go. Zapata then set up Mario Pasalic for a late winner.
The home crowd called for a penalty early on as Mertens rounded the Atalanta goalkeeper. However, upon hitting the ground he swiftly waved away any appeals, telling the referee there has been no contact and that he had lost his footing.
The second period was more open, with both teams trading chances and Zapata’s close-range finish levelled things up.
From there on it was all Atalanta and they got the goal they craved when Zapata turned creator, teeing up Pasilic with a back-heel that the Croatian swept in.
(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli, editing by Pritha Sarkar)