Napoli 0-0 Atalanta: Ospina keeps superior visitors at bay as Coppa semi remains finely poised

By Sports Desk February 03, 2021

Atalanta were unable to make the most of their superiority as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Napoli in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final, with David Ospina keeping the visitors at bay.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men were in control for much of the game and created the best chances of the match, but they ultimately had to settle for a draw ahead of the return leg in Bergamo next week.

Luis Muriel was Atalanta's danger man, proving a real nuisance to Napoli as he offered a threat in front of goal and also proved an able creator, though Ospina in the home side's net stood firm.

Napoli might have been expected to produce an improvement after the interval but still they struggled to craft openings of their own, consigning them to an underwhelming 0-0 first-leg draw.

Although Napoli looked bright at first, Atalanta soon became the dominant force and went close to a fluke early lead when Muriel's wicked free-kick delivery from the left drew a desperate save from his compatriot Ospina in the hosts' net.

The excellent Muriel was involved again soon after as he fed Matteo Pessina into the box, but Ospina saved at his feet and Rafael Toloi hopelessly shot wide a few minutes later following a clever one-two.

Muriel then wasted a decent chance of his own late in the half, blazing over from just inside the area after cleverly evading Kalidou Koulibaly.

Ospina remained busy at the start of the second period as he first rushed out to thwart Muriel, before holding on to Joakim Maehle's excellent header from a corner just past the hour.

Napoli's midfield presence diminished considerably as they lost Diego Demme and Lorenzo Insigne in quick succession to knocks, with Atalanta's dominance increasing as a result.

But Robin Gosens missed a glorious chance as he headed wide 13 minutes from time and that proved to be their final opportunity.

 

Related items

  • Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth: Blues secure European spot with victory over Cherries Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth: Blues secure European spot with victory over Cherries

    Goals from Moises Caicedo and Raheem Sterling secured a 2-1 victory for Chelsea over Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, ensuring the Blues will play European football next season.

    Chelsea headed into the final game of the campaign on Sunday knowing a win would secure at least a Europa Conference League spot, and Caicedo put them on course for three points in the first half with a stunning long-range finish.

    Sterling then fired home after the interval to put Mauricio Pochettino's men firmly into the ascendancy, and though a Benoit Badiashile own-goal gave the Cherries hope, Chelsea saw out the victory.

    The win means the hosts finish the campaign in sixth, and if Manchester City beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final next weekend, Chelsea will play in the Europa League next season.

    The hosts started brightly with Nicolas Jackson and Cole Palmer both going close early, while Antoine Semenyo tested Djordje Petrovic at the other end with a dipping effort.

    Caicedo put Chelsea ahead in spectacular fashion, seizing upon Neto's loose clearance before sending an audacious lob into the back of the net from close to the halfway line.

    The hosts then made it 2-0 moments into the second half, Sterling driving into the box before firing past Neto from a tight angle.

    That two-goal advantage lasted less than two minutes, though, as Enes Unal brought down a cross from the left and lashed goalwards, leading to Badiashile turning into the back of his own net.

    Bournemouth pressed for a leveller late on and nearly found one when Dominic Solanke failed to hit the target in injury time, but the hosts held on to confirm they'll be playing European football next term.

    Chelsea finally flourishing

    It has been another tumultuous campaign at Stamford Bridge, and doubts are lingering over whether Pochettino will be in charge come the start of next term, but Chelsea's strong form to end the season has certainly been impressive.

    Pochettino finally seems to be getting the best out of his talented but young squad, with the win over Bournemouth making it five straight Premier League victories, the first time they have managed that since 2022 under Thomas Tuchel.

    One of those Blues players who has enjoyed their football of late is Caicedo, and his goal here was the perfect reminder of what a talent he is. The first-half strike was the furthest scored in a Premier League game since Wayne Rooney for Everton in November 2017 (57.7 yards v West Ham).

    Iraola impresses in first season

    Bournemouth may have finished the season with three straight defeats, but the Cherries have still finished 12th in Andoni Iraola's first season since joining from Rayo Vallecano.

    It looked like Iraola's time in charge at the Vitality Stadium could be brief as Bournemouth failed to win any of their first nine Premier League games of the season.

    But it's been quite the turnaround from the Cherries, who will end the season 22 points above the relegation zone having won 13 Premier League games, their joint-most in a single campaign, and Bournemouth fans will be looking to the future with optimism.

  • Crystal Palace 5-0 Aston Villa: Mateta hat-trick sends Eagles soaring to final-day win Crystal Palace 5-0 Aston Villa: Mateta hat-trick sends Eagles soaring to final-day win

    Jean-Philippe Mateta stole the show with a hat-trick as Crystal Palace ended the Premier League season unbeaten in seven straight games after a 5-0 hammering of Aston Villa at Selhurst Park.

    Palace manager Oliver Glasner replaced Roy Hodgson in February and has made an immediate impression on the Eagles, with promising signs awaiting his first full season in England next term.

    Mateta has been one of many Palace players to enjoy an upturn in form since Glasner's arrival, with the in-form striker's deadly first-half double paving the way for an impressive victory on Sunday.

    Frenchman Mateta completed his hat-trick with a well-taken finish in the second half, in between a pair of eye-catching Eberechi Eze goals, as Palace's dominant triumph saw them finish 10th in the table.

    This final-day defeat will not dampen the mood too much for Unai Emery's fourth-placed Villa, who head into next season with UEFA Champions League football awaiting.

    Selhurst Park erupted after just nine minutes when Michael Olise slipped a delicate pass into the area for Mateta, who blasted a left-footed effort past the helpless Robin Olsen.

    Villa responded with a barrage on Palace's goal, but Dean Henderson denied a well-struck Moussa Diaby volley before Marc Guehi cleared Ollie Watkins' looping header on the line.

    Glasner's Eagles struck another decisive blow six minutes before the interval as Daniel Munoz swept a low cross for Mateta to slam into the top-left corner from close range.

    Olsen stopped Olise from making it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, with his low curling attempt pushed away by the Villa goalkeeper, who replaced Emiliano Martinez for this final-day meeting.

    Yet Olsen had no chance after 54 minutes as Eze danced inside from the left and powered into the bottom-left corner, before the Palace midfielder teed up Mateta to complete his treble with a well-taken finish from the right of goal nine minutes later.

    Palace's in-form striker thought he had another to add to his tally moments later but a VAR review ruled the Frenchman offside after racing onto a long pass in behind.

    Mateta responded to that VAR decision by setting up Eze to drive another brilliant attempt into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area after 69 minutes and complete a dominant victory.

    Palace excitement builds with Glasner

    Prior to this game, Palace had won five of their last six Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 27 (D8 L14). 

    The Eagles smashed Manchester United 4-0 and Wolves 3-1 in their last two games before this victory made it three Premier League wins in a row, while Palace scored 3+ goals in each triumph for the first time in their top-flight history.

    Austrian Glasner's next challenge will be to keep up the improvements going into next season, with Palace – boasting quality in the likes of Eze, Mateta and Olise – capable of competing in the top half of the table.

    Amazing Emery inspires Villa revival

    Villa were only promoted back to the Premier League five years ago, after their Championship play-off final victory over Derby County, but will be preparing for Champions League football next term.

    That remarkable rise to compete with Europe's elite can largely be apportioned to Emery, who was appointed in October 2022 after Steven Gerrard was dismissed with Villa struggling at the bottom half of the league table.

    The Spaniard, a record four-time winner of the Europa League, has 35 wins in 63 games of his Premier League managerial career with Villa – a record he will hope to continue improving next season.

  • Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: Foden scores twice as champions retain title Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: Foden scores twice as champions retain title

    Manchester City clinched an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title with a 3-1 final-day win over West Ham, with Phil Foden scoring twice at a sun-soaked Etihad Stadium.

    Premier League Player of the Season Foden capped his outstanding campaign with two great goals when it mattered most, firing home from range in the second minute then adding another 16 minutes later.

    Mohammed Kudus gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope in the title race when he halved the arrears with a remarkable overhead kick, but Rodri restored the champions' two-goal cushion after 59 minutes.

    Pep Guardiola could relax from there and City were unfortunate not to add to their lead, finishing two points clear at the summit as Arsenal fought back to beat Everton 2-1.

    West Ham, meanwhile, were already guaranteed to finish ninth and end their final campaign under David Moyes with 52 points, eight adrift of Manchester United in eighth.  

    Mikel Arteta would have been praying for a solid start from West Ham, but City were ahead within 78 seconds as Foden's delicate touch took him away from James Ward-Prowse 25 yards out, allowing him to blast his shot into the top-left corner.

    City laid siege to Alphonse Areola's goal from there, Jeremy Doku drawing two reflex saves from the visiting goalkeeper before Rodri prodded wide from a promising position. 

    With West Ham chasing shadows, City went 2-0 up when Foden swept across goal and in after fine work from Doku on the left wing. 

    Erling Haaland somehow failed to convert from close range before West Ham suddenly grew in stature, and Kudus introduced some jeopardy with an incredible overhead kick with 42 minutes gone. 

    Haaland missed another glaring chance just before half-time, then Kevin De Bruyne and Foden fired wide as the crowd grew increasingly nervous after the interval.

    However, Rodri settled City's nerves just before the hour mark, side-footing beyond the dive of Areola after being teed up by Bernardo Silva on the edge of the area.

    Haaland went close on two more occasions as City looked to kill the game once and for all, before Tomas Soucek had a goal disallowed for an obvious handball at the other end following a VAR review. 

    That was the last tense moment City had to endure as they celebrated yet another title, finishing the campaign with nine straight wins to edge out the Gunners. 

    Fitting end to Foden's season

    A series of talismanic displays in the run-in contributed to Foden earning Player of the Season honours, not least a pair of match-winning hat-tricks against Brentford and Aston Villa. He saved his best for last, however. 

    Foden's stunning opener was his sixth goal from outside the area in the Premier League this season, three more than any other player in the competition and the most ever netted by a City player in a single campaign.

    His second, a cultured finish into the far corner from Doku's cutback, was his 19th in the Premier League in 2023-24. Raheem Sterling in 2019-20 (20) is the only English player to ever better that tally for City in a single season.

    While it was Rodri's goal that allowed City to breathe after a tense period either side of half-time, it was fitting that Foden played a starring role on the decisive day.

    Kudos to Kudus

    Moyes' 198th and final Premier League game in charge of West Ham may have ended in defeat, but Kudus' stunning strike at least gave the Scot something to savour on his Hammers swansong.

    Taking advantage of some slack set-piece defending, Kudus flicked the ball into the air, held off Josko Gvardiol and gave Stefan Ortega no chance with a brilliant, improvised finish.

    He ends his first Premier League campaign with eight goals, a tally only bettered by Jarrod Bowen (16) among his Irons team-mates.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.