BERGAMO, Italy: Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens scored second-half goals as Atalanta continued their scintillating form and cemented their place in the top four with a deserved 2-0 Serie A victory over Napoli on Thursday.
Atalanta moved to 60 points from 29 games, 15 ahead of sixth-place Napoli whose hopes of playing Champions League football next season appear to have evaporated.
The Italian Cup winners were unbeaten in nine games going into the match, but failed to trouble the home side in front of goal in a limp performance from Gennaro Gattuso’s side.
Atalanta have now won their last nine games in all competitions and having reached the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League, look almost certain to qualify again.
Alejandro Gomez stung the palms of Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina with a long shot that bounced awkwardly and required a full-length dive to turn the ball around the post.
The visitors lost Ospina shortly afterwards when he received a nasty cut above the eye after a clash with his own defender and was replaced by Alex Meret as the teams failed to score in a poor first half.
But Atalanta took the lead two minutes after restart as Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz dallied in clearing the ball on the edge of his own box and when Gomez found space to whip in a cross, the unmarked Pasalic had an easy header from six metres.
It was 2-0 on 55 minutes with another simple goal as Rafael Toloi’s wild shot in the box fell kindly for Gosens, who had time to take a touch and drill the ball low into the net.
Ruiz had the chance to make up for his earlier error when he found himself in space on the edge of the Atalanta box, but steered his shot the wrong side of the post.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)