Napoli regained their 18-point advantage at the top of Serie A with a 2-0 win over Atalanta.
Second half goals from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and defender Amir Rrahmani were enough to claim all three points as Luciano Spalletti’s side close in on their first Scudetto since 1989-90.
Chances were few and far between in a cagey opening period but Napoli did have a handful of opportunities to test Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso.
The first came early on when Matteo Politano and Piotr Zielinski combined well on the edge of the box before the former took aim at the Atalanta goal with a low, hard strike, but Musso was down quickly to palm the ball away.
Kvaratskhelia showed his flair to beat two defenders and burst into the Atalanta box, but his shot from a tight angle beat off the chest of Musso who got across his line to the near post early.
The two best chances of the half came minutes before the break when Victor Osimhen darted into the penalty area before he fizzed a ball across the six-yard box, which Musso – once again – guided away from goal and into the centre of the box, but there was no one there to take advantage of the loose ball.
After a string of scrappy Atalanta attempts to get the ball clear, the ball found its way to Politano 14 yards from goal, but his strike was kept out by the busy goalkeeper.
Musso was called into action for a fifth time when he was in the right place to stop Osimhen’s outrageous bicycle kick effort early into the second half, which was straight at the Argentine despite the brilliant execution.
Napoli started the second half much like they ended the first, with waves of attack threatening the Atalanta goal. Zielinski cut inside on his left foot and tried to bend an effort towards the far post but his shot was blocked and fell to Kvaratskhelia on the edge of the box, who uncharacteristically blasted his effort over.
Osimhen threatened throughout like he does so often and came closest when he met another Politano cross that he guided just wide of the post.
Minutes later, however, Napoli inevitably took the lead when Kvaratskhelia produced a moment of excellence to fire the league leaders in front. He was found by Osihmen and drove into the box before cutting inside on his right foot not once, but twice, dazing the five Atalanta defenders surrounding him before he blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
With a little over ten minutes to play, Napoli put the game to bed with their second goal. Rrahmani rose highest in the box to send a header beyond Musso at the far post.
The result means Napoli move 18 points clear of Inter Milan in Serie A with 12 games to play.
TALKING POINT – NAPOLI IN TOUCHING DISTANCE OF GLORY
They’re just seven games away from surely claiming only their third-ever Italian first division title, which they last won 23 years ago. Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Min-Jae Kim, Giovanni Simeone, and plenty of others will go down as Naples legends when they inevitably get their hands on that long-waited Scudetto.
After a tighter first half, Napoli knew what they had to do when they reemerged from the tunnel in the second, and battered Atalanta until they broke the deadlock through Kvaratskhelia, who is having arguably the best season of anyone in Europe.
Amir Rrahmani made sure of the points not long after, as Luciano Spalletti’s side edge ever closer to making history.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KHVICHA KVARATSKHELIA (NAPOLI)
It just had to be the Georgian who took his goal excellently, but apart from that was the catalyst in everything Napoi did going forward.
Victor Osimhen didn’t have his best game by his standards, albeit still played well, but Kvaratskhelia did more than step up when Napoli needed him most to score his 12th goal in 27 games across all competitions this season.
NAPOLI: Gollini 7, Di Lorenzo 8, Rrahmani 8, Kim 7, Olivera 7, Anguissa 7, Lobotka 7, Zielinski 7, Politano 8, Osimhen 7, Kvaratskhelia 8
Subs: Jesus 6, Elmas 7, Ndombele 6, Simone N/A, Zerbin N/A
ATALANTA: Musso 7, Scalvini 6, Djimsiti 6, Toloi 6, Maehle 6, de Roon 7, Ederson 6, Ruggeri 6, Pasalic 6, Zapata 6, Hojlund 6
Subs: Demiral 6, Boga 6, Muriel 6, Lookman N/A, Zappacosta 6
6’ – NAPOLI TEST MUSSO! Politano and Piotr Zielinski combine well on the edge of the box before the former takes aim at the Atalanta goal with a low, hard strike, but Juan Musso gets down quickly to palm the ball behind for a corner.
28’ – CHANCE NAPOLI! Kvaratskhelia receives the ball on the left and beats two defenders as he bursts into the box with flair, but his shot from a very tight angle beats off the chest of goalkeeper Musso before going behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
41’ – BIG CHANCES FOR NAPOLI! Osimhen busts into the penalty area before fizzing a ball across the six-yard box which Musso palms into the centre of the goal but there’s no one there to take advantage. After a string of scrappy Atalanta attempts to get the ball clear, a loose ball falls to Politano 14 yards from goal, but his strike is also kept out by Musso. Osimhen takes a snapshot at the rebound which is also saved, but he was offside anyway.
48’ – WHAT A GOAL THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN! Osimhen pulls out the bicycle kick as he latches onto Politano’s cross, but it’s straight at Musso!
57’ – OSIMHEN HEADS WIDE! Again, it’s Osimhen on the end of a Politano cross but he guides his header wide! That’s the closest he’s come to finding the opener. It’s all Napoli now!
60’ – GOAL! NAPOLI 1-0 ATALANTA (KVARATSKHELIA) – Kvaratskhelia is found by Osihmen, and the Georgian drives into the box before he cuts in on his right foot not once, but twice, dazing the FIVE Atalanta defenders surrounding the superstar before he fires the ball into the roof of the net!
77’ – GOAL! NAPOLI 2-0 ATALANTA (RRAHMANI) – Napoli double their lead as Rrahmani heads home! That’s surely game over!
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