Atalanta end Leverkusen’s unbeaten run 3-0 for Europa League trophy

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Atalanta end Leverkusen's unbeaten run 3-0 for Europa League trophy

Ademola Lookman scored a hat-trick as Atalanta destroyed Bayer Leverkusen's Invincibles 3-0 in the Europa League final on Wednesday to end a 61-year title drought with a maiden continental trophy.

Man of the Match Lookman opened the scoring in the 12th minute, hit again in the 26th, and wrapped up matters in the 75th minute in the Dublin Arena as the Bergamo side handed Bundesliga champions Leverkusen a first season defeat in the 52nd match across all competitions.

It was another tactical masterclass from Gian Piero Gasperini' high pressing side, on par with their famous 3-0 win at Anfield in April en route to ousting Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

Atalanta rebounded from losing the Italian Cup final last week against Juventus, a competition they had won back in 1963 for their lone title until Wednesday.

It was a first success in Europe's second tier event for an Italian side in 25 years, since Parma won in 1999, then the UEFA Cup.

The 1988 UEFA Cup champions Leverkusen were surprisingly toothless and tasted defeat for the first time since losing 3-0 in the Bundesliga against Bochum on May 27, 2023.

Xabi Alonso's side can however still end the season on a high by beating Kaiserslautern in Saturday's German Cup final in Berlin for a domestic double without defeat.

They became the first-ever side to go unbeaten over a full Bundesliga season but failed to become the first team in Europe to remain unbeaten across all competitions since continental matches were introduced.

We made history, says Lookman

"It's one of the best nights of my life. It was an amazing performance from the team. We did it – fantastic. I'm just happy we won. We made history tonight," former Bundesliga player at RB Leipzig Lookman told TNT Sports.

Gasperini said: "I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it. It was just extraordinary. We defeated Liverpool and Sporting, who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool they were first in the Premier League… And now the German champions.

"Incredible! The boys were extraordinary. A memorable performance."

Leverkusen captain Jonathan Tah told RTL: "It hurts a lot and we are very disappointed but that's part of football. You want a different result when you get that far. You have accept the pain. They absolutely deserved to win. They gave us hardly any space."

Atalanta draw first blood and then strike again

Alonso kept his Europa League and German Cup goalkeeper Matej Kovar between the post despite some recent wobbles, with captain and Bundesliga keeper Lukas Hradecky on the bench.

Bundesliga Player of the Season Florian Wirtz was fit again to start after a recent thigh problem against an Atalanta 11 spearheaded by fearsome forwards Lookman, Gianluca Scamacca and Charles de Ketelaere.

Atalanta beat Leverkusen in both legs of their the round of 16 tie in 2022, and Scamacca threatened for a first time in the eighth minute with a header blocked by Piero Hincapie.

The Italians opened the scoring four minutes later after a sustained period of pressure, with Lookman running past a motionless Exequiel Palacios to smash home a low cross through the penalty area from Davide Zappacosta.

And it soon got worse for the Germans when Atalanta won the ball again and Lookman curled into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.

Leverkusen have a mountain to climb

Leverkusen had come back from two goals down in the quarter-finals against Qarabag and in the semis against Roma with some of their famous late comebacks but doing so again was an even tougher task.

Musso saved from Alejandro Grimaldo, Wirtz failed to control a chipped from Granit Xhaka, and ex-Arsenal man Xhaka aimed wide on the stroke of half-time.

Striker Victor Boniface came on for Stanisic for more attacking power after the break but Leverkusen continued to lack precision and struggled to create danger, with Jeremie Frimpong firing well over in the 59th on a half chance.

Lookman wraps up matters

Atalanta sat deep and then pounced to seal a famous victory in the 75th. Scamacca found Lookman on the left, the Nigerian ran past Edmond Tapsoba and smashed into the roof of the net.

Alonso brought Patrik Schick and Nathan Tella but it was to no avail as Leverkusen were comprehensively brought down to earth for the first time in the penultimate match of a fairytale season while Atalanta celebrations started long before the final whistle.

"It wasn't our day and we have to accept it," Alonso said.


1 Comment
  1. Emily Smith says

    Wow, what an incredible performance by Atalanta! Ademola Lookman really stole the show with a fantastic hat-trick. It’s amazing to see them end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run and clinch their first continental trophy in 61 years. Congratulations to the team and their fans!

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