Walter Mazzarri gets off to winning start as Elif Elmas hits Napoli winner

By Sports Desk November 25, 2023

Elif Elmas’ goal got Walter Mazzarri’s return to Napoli off to a winning start after his side beat Atalanta 2-1 in Serie A

Napoli took the lead through Khvicha Kvaratskhelia just before half-time and a frenetic period followed as both sides had a flurry of chances before the break.

Ademola Lookman levelled for Atalanta in a dominant second half for the hosts, but a mistake at the back allowed Elmas to score a winner in the 79th minute.

Three points moved Napoli third in Serie A ahead of AC Milan’s match later on Saturday, while Atalanta dropped to sixth.

Mario Pasalic had the first real chance 20 minutes with a great header from a free-kick, but Pierluigi Gollini made a strong low dive to his left to save.

There was worry for Atalanta just before the half-hour mark as Davide Zappacosta limped off the pitch and was eventually substituted for Hans Hateboer.

Napoli found the net in the 33rd minute when Giacomo Raspadori’s curling cross picked out Amir Rrahmani, who looped a header into the top corner but the goal was disallowed for offside.

The visitors were then also forced into an early change as Mathias Olivera went down in pain after slipping on the pitch and was subsequently carried off on a stretcher in the 38th minute.

Napoli took the lead in the 44th minute after a great cross from Giovanni Di Lorenzo found Kvaratskhelia bursting forward, leaving Marco Carnesecchi no chance as the Georgian’s powerful header flew past him.

The chances suddenly came thick and fast as Atalanta nearly pulled one back moments later when Hateboer found Teun Koopmeiners running at the back post, but Gollini made a fine save to claw away the danger.

The visitors nearly doubled their advantage before the break when Piotr Zielinski forced Carnesecchi into a brilliant fingertip save before Di Lorenzo’s follow-up was cleared and the ball then fell to Matteo Politano, but his first-time strike was denied by a sliding block from Pasalic.

A change in momentum saw Atalanta level in the 53rd minute after Hateboer crossed into the box and Lookman flicked a header into the bottom left corner.

They continued to threaten and found the net in the 67th with a brilliant team move finished by Pasalic, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Koopmeiners then had an effort blocked by the visiting defence before Charles de Ketelaere’s strike curled around the post.

However, a poor clearance from Carnesecchi allowed Napoli to retake the lead as the ball fell to Victor Osimhen, who did well to tap it through to Elmas and the midfielder rolled the ball into the bottom corner.

Atalanta had a tame penalty shout waved away in the final stages when Luis Muriel was challenged by Di Lorenzo and Napoli were able to hold on in stoppage time.

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