Naples: SSC Napoli were left to rue the incompetency of VAR, with the referees failing to award a clear and obvious penalty on Fernando Llorente. To make matters worse, Atalanta took the ball from their box to Napoli’s and scored just seconds later, compounding the misery. Once the goal was scored, there was a long VAR check, with tensions boiling over when the goal was allowed.
The Napoli players were angry, Carlo Ancelotti was angry, his staff and the fans in the stadium were angry. The fourth official and the match referee got an earful from Carlo, who was ruefully shown a red card to compound the misery. Napoli were desperate for a win to bounce back from their disappointing 1-1 draw against SPAL.
Simon Kjaer, the Atalanta defender, made no attempt to play the ball. He was only focused on impeding Llorente’s attempt of heading the ball goal-wards. His pursuit was successful, if illegal, with Llorente sent hurling onto the ground and Kjaer on top of him. How it was not given as a penalty is a matter nobody in the ground understood.
Even Simon Kjaer feared for the worst, with his eyes stealing nervous looks at the linesman and the referee, fearing the worst. Napoli’s players froze when the referee waved play-on, which Atalanta took full advantage of, with Josip Ilicic curling a beautiful shot past the helpless Alex Meret from a tight angle.
Earlier, the game was dominated by Napoli, with two great goals sandwiched by Milik hitting the post when more than 3/4th of the goal was open to him. His big miss was punished by Ilicic in the end, with Meret gifting the first goal by letting a tame shot trickle through his legs and into the goal.
Overall, it was a poor day at the office for SSC Napoli, with both Inter and Juventus winning their bouts to put some daylight between them and the rest of the chasing pack. SSC Napoli have dropped down to the 6th spot courtesy of their back to back draws, with all of Atalanta, AS Roma and Lazio ahead of them.
And things are not getting easier in a hurry for Ancelotti, with a resurgent AS Roma, Thiago Motta’s Genoa and AC Milan their next three games in Serie A. To make matters worse, they also have to navigate through RB Salzburg and Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League in the meantime.
Can Ancelotti weather this storm and navigate his team through a difficult period? Will Napoli keep pace with Inter and Juventus at the top of the table? Write your thoughts to us by mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on instagram, twitter or facebook.