NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - Atalanta snatched a late 2-2 draw away to Napoli amid chaotic scenes on Wednesday as Josip Ilicic scored their equaliser seconds after their opponents had a penalty appeal waved away.
Players and officials had to wait several minutes for a VAR check to discover whether the Atalanta goal would stand or whether Napoli would be awarded a penalty.
Eventually, the goal was given and the normally unflappable Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti was sent off amid angry protests from the hosts.
Napoli were leading 2-1 when Dries Mertens crossed the ball into the area and Napoli substitute Fernando Llorente went down under a challenge from Simon Kjaer.
As Napoli protested, Atalanta went straight down the other end and Rafael Toloi threaded a pass through to Ilicic who curled his shot past Alex Meret.
Atalanta celebrated but were then forced to wait as the two incidents were checked by VAR officials before the goal was confirmed with Napoli continuing to demand a penalty. The delay partly contributed to eight minutes of stoppage time being added on.
Ancelotti said he felt personally attacked when he was sent off. “It was an attack on my professionalism and on my team,” he said, adding that he had been trying to calm his players.
He also said that he was worried about the use of VAR and that the video officials, and not the pitch referees, were now in change.
“It’s the VAR official who controls everything,” he said.
“I was a supporter of VAR but this use of VAR is making me worried...it’s no longer just support for the referee, it is the referee.”
His opposite number Gian Piero Gasperini, however, said that in his view Llorente fouled Kjaer.
“When I saw it from the pitch, I thought it was a penalty,” he said. “But when I saw the pictures, I saw a big elbow by Llorente in Kjaer’s face.”
Atalanta, Serie A’s leading scorers with 30 goals in 10 games, stayed third with 21 points, three ahead of Napoli.
Nikola Maksimovic headed Napoli in front from Jose Callejon’s cross in the 16th minute and Arkadiusz Milik should have increased their lead but headed against the post from close range.
Instead, Remo Freuler equalised in the 41st minute with a shot which went through Meret’s legs.
Napoli regained the lead in the 71st minute after Atalanta lost possession in midfield, Fabian Ruiz sent Milik clear of the defence and the Pole rounded goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to score.
The hosts appeared to be coasting until the dramatic finale which will raise more questions about the use of VAR.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar