Home » Europa League Final: Nigeria’s Lookman The Hero As Atalanta Stun Leverkusen

Europa League Final: Nigeria’s Lookman The Hero As Atalanta Stun Leverkusen

by Silverbird News24

Lookman’s stunning hat-trick brings Atalanta their first trophy in 117 years and an end to ‘Neverlusen’s’ unbeaten run.

Atalanta lifted their first European trophy with the 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final

Ademola Lookman scored a stunning hat-trick as Atalanta beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the Europa League final to win just the second major trophy in their 117-year history and end the German champions’ remarkable unbeaten streak.

Lookman, who struggled to establish himself in the English Premier League with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City before reviving his career in Italy under Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, struck twice inside the first 26 minutes before sealing the win 15 minutes from full-time on Wednesday night.

The victory ended Gasperini’s own two-decade-long pursuit of major silverware as his side totally outplayed Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen – or ‘Neverlusen’ as they had been dubbed after going an incredible 51 games unbeaten.

But just as they did against Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and three-time finalists Olympique de Marseille in the previous two rounds, Atalanta didn’t give their opponents a sniff and marked their first European final with a famous victory.

“We needed to be attacking. It was not enough just to defend. We know these teams are great at attacking. Everyone was extraordinary,” Gasperini told Sky Sports Italia, referring to the teams his side beat to become the first Italian winners of the competition since Parma 25 years ago.

“The way we did it was the most important thing. We deserved it without a shadow of a doubt against such a strong team. Winning the Europa League is an extraordinary achievement.”

Leverkusen started the game looking decidedly unsure of themselves and some uncharacteristically sloppy play handed the first chance of the game to Gianluca Scamacca, who didn’t get enough on his header from a fine Matteo Ruggeri cross.

It was an early warning shot, and the purposeful Italians struck within minutes when Davide Zappacosta was allowed far too much space down the right before Lookman beat a flatfooted Exequiel Palacios to the cutback to stroke home the opener.

Lookman was mobbed by his teammates and substitutes who were in dreamland 14 minutes later.

Another Leverkusen error gifted possession to the Nigerian forward, who skipped past one defender and curled a beautiful right-footed shot into the bottom-right corner from just outside the box.

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