Walter Mazzarri painted his second touchline debut for Napoli with vivid colors as his team eked out an all-important 2-1 win at Atalanta. Khvica Kvaratskhelia and Elif Elmas scored on either side of halftime to inspire their new manager to the best possible start. 

All eyes were on Bergamo today as Mazzarri returned to Napoli after over a decade to save the sinking ship in the wake of Rudi Garcia’s destruction. The veteran coach couldn’t have hoped for a more daunting challenge on his Serie A return, with Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta coming into the game as one of the division’s best home sides. 

However, Napoli took a late first-half lead as Kvaratskhelia maintained his form resurgence with a rare headed goal to open the scoring. Atalanta leveled the score eight minutes after the break, only for Elmas to net off the bench in the 79th minute to give Partenopei a morale-boosting victory. 

It wasn’t the most impressive performance from Napoli. Yet, Mazzarri waxed lyrical about his side’s effort at one of the most intimidating hostile venues in Serie A.

A victory in this stadium, against this team, was not easy and will not be easy for anyone,” the Napoli boss said, as quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport. “The first half we were almost perfect, but we lost our intensity too much after the restart and Atalanta naturally gave it their all. I had hoped for a better second half performance than this.

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