After scoring just one goal in six matches and allowing Juventus to move nine points clear at the top, it seems Napoli have resurrected themselves. Despite moments of madness at the San Paolo, Napoli managed to grab a win over Atalanta.
The match started off well for Napoli, with the partenopei finally managing to score a goal. Of course, Atalanta practically gift-wrapped the goal and pushed it into the recipients' hands. Luigi Giorgi tripped Juan Zúñiga on the edge of the area, setting up a penalty chance for Edinson Cavani. El Matador hadn't scored in eight matches, but Atalanta's gift allowed him to break his duck and give Napoli the early advantage.
But, Napoli being Napoli, they couldn't find a way to increase their lead. Twenty minutes in, Marek Hamsik managed to miss a header from six yards out, skying it high over the bar. A few minutes later, the Slovak got his shot on target, but Andrea Consigli barely had to move, easily gathering the ball.
So really, there was little surprise when Atalanta found an equalizer. Nor was anyone shocked to see the goal scorer: Paolo Cannavaro. Giacomo Bonaventura couldn't quite come to terms with a cross from Germán Denis, but he was spared shame when the devised the ingenious tactic of kicking the ball at the Napoli captain. The ball ricocheted off Cannavaro to land in the back of the net.
The teams headed into the second half with a goal each, but the fun was just beginning. Napoli, most likely aware that Milan was ahead at Palermo, poured everything they had into grabbing a winner. Goran Pandev took a shot, Christian Maggio tried a header, and Blerim Dzemaili shot on sight. With none of the attempts even troubling Consigli, it seemed like Napoli were back to their old ways.
The partenopei re-emergence was confirmed in the 64th minute, when Cavani grabbed another. The Uruguayan put a little flair into his second goal, knocking down a cross from Pandev, spinning through the Atalanta defense, and sending a low, sharp shot past Consigli.
Despite the fact that Atalanta are in little danger of relegation, and even less danger of securing a European position, the visitors were determined to come away from Naples with at least a point. Or Denis just really wanted to put one over on his old club. Or Morgan De Sanctis had placed a bet on a draw. It could have been any of the above, really, with the way De Sanctis abandoned the sticks, allowing Denis to put one into the empty net.
But then, the heavens opened, the sun broke free from behind a cloud, and the voice of Maradona rang out over the San Paolo. Blessed by a message from their god, the partenopei knew they were destined to retain second place. And that is the story of how Goran Pandev managed to score the winning goal for Napoli, tapping in a ball from Pablo Armero.
And if you needed further proof that Napoli have been touched by the hand of god and have resurrected themselves, you'll find it in the fact that Walter Mazzarri was sent off in the dying minutes of the match. He joined Atalanta director of sport Riccardo Bigon, who was filling in for Stefano Colantuono, the la dea coach himself suspended.
A Mazzarri sending-off, frightening defense, and a brace by El Matador: Napoli sono tornati!
Atalanta: Andrea Consigli; Cristian Raimondi, Guglielmo Stendardo, Stefano Lucchini, Cristiano Del Grosso; Luigi Giorgi (Michele Canini 60), Carlos Carmona, Davide Biondini, Giacomo Bonaventura; Maxi Moralez (Marko Livaja 66); Germán Denis
Goals: Cavani 3 (N), Cannavaro og 31 (A), Cavani 64 (N), Denis 73 (A), Pandev 81 (N)