Napoli are headed to the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia after a 3-1 win over Atalanta, but it didn't come without controversy. A dubious go-ahead goal incensed the visitors and by the time the arguing was done, Mario Yepes had been shown a red card, all but dooming them to defeat.
Atalanta scored first with a 14th minute counterattack that fit right in with a fun first 15 minutes. Yohan Benalouane sparked the move with a great ball for Marko Livaja, who raced down the left. From there, all it took was a cross right into the path of Giuseppe De Luca, who had a tap in to give his side the lead.
It took less than a minute for Napoli to strike back, with Jose Callejon scoring an absolute peach of a goal. Anthony Reveillere's cross for him was waist high so he took it on the volley and hit a belter from an angle just inside the post. It was tremendous and the match looked set to be a thriller.
Unfortunately, that was the end of the first half entertainment. The two sides were dreadful until the break and made those opening 15 minutes feel like ages earlier.
Fortunately, Napoli brought on Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain in the second half and things livened up. That was especially true when a ball over the top for an offside Higuain struck Christiano Del Grosso, who was waving his arm and half-heartedly running with Higuain, in the back. The ball then bounced right to Lorenzo Insigne, who buried the shot and when the referee gave the goal, Atalanta exploded.
Atalanta argued that Del Grosso was attempting to defend an offside player and that the play should have been offside, but with a couple yards between him and Higuain, the referee said the play was legal. Higuain never attempted to play the ball and thus, the goal was good. Yepes' disagreement with the referee earned him a yellow card and then a few minutes later, another yellow card.
Napoli added another goal late as Gokhan Inler hit a delightful ball over the top for Callejon, who finished with his first touch to wrap up the victory, not that Atalanta will remember the third goal. It was the second one that decided the match and they will have plenty of time to think about it now that they don't have the Coppa to worry about.
Napoli: Rafael, Reveillere, Britos, Albiol, Maggio, Radosevic, Insigne, Inler, Callejon (Bariti 84'), Pandev (Hamsik 60'), Zapata (Higuain 71').
Goals: Callejon 15', Insigne 72', Callejon 80'.
Atalanta: Polito, Del Grosso, Benalouane, Yepes, Giorgi (Cigarini 84'), Baselli (Stendardo 76'), Cazzola, Kone, Nica, Livaja, De Luca (Marlingo 62')
Goals: De Luca 14'.