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Europa League final: Nigeria’s Lookman the hero as Atalanta stun Leverkusen | Football News



Europa League final: Nigeria’s Lookman the hero as Atalanta stun Leverkusen | Football News

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

Ademola Lookman scored a shocking hat-trick as Atalanta beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 within the Europa League ultimate to win simply the second main trophy of their 117-year historical past and finish the German champions’ exceptional unbeaten streak.

Lookman, who struggled to ascertain himself within the English Premier League with Everton, Fulham and Leicester Metropolis earlier than reviving his profession in Italy below Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, struck twice inside the primary 26 minutes earlier than sealing the win quarter-hour from full-time on Wednesday night time.

The victory ended Gasperini’s personal two-decade-long pursuit of main silverware as his facet completely outplayed Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen – or ‘Neverlusen’ as they’d been dubbed after going an unimaginable 51 video games unbeaten.

However simply as they did in opposition to Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and three-time finalists Olympique de Marseille within the earlier two rounds, Atalanta didn’t give their opponents a sniff and marked their first European ultimate with a well-known victory.

“We wanted to be attacking. It was not sufficient simply to defend. We all know these groups are nice at attacking. Everybody was extraordinary,” Gasperini advised Sky Sports activities Italia, referring to the groups his facet beat to develop into the primary Italian winners of the competitors since Parma 25 years in the past.

“The way in which we did it was a very powerful factor. We deserved it with out a shadow of a doubt in opposition to such a robust staff. Profitable the Europa League is a unprecedented achievement.”

Leverkusen began the sport trying decidedly not sure of themselves and a few uncharacteristically sloppy play handed the primary likelihood of the sport to Gianluca Scamacca, who didn’t get sufficient on his header from a wonderful Matteo Ruggeri cross.

It was an early warning shot, and the purposeful Italians struck inside minutes when Davide Zappacosta was allowed far an excessive amount of area down the proper earlier than Lookman beat a flatfooted Exequiel Palacios to the cutback to stroke house the opener.

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

One other Leverkusen error gifted possession to the Nigerian ahead, who skipped previous one defender and curled a gorgeous right-footed shot into the bottom-right nook from simply outdoors the field.

Ademola Lookman shocked favourites Bayer Leverkusen together with his three targets within the ultimate [Molly Darlington/Reuters]

‘Probably the greatest nights of my life’

The shocked Germans confirmed temporary flashes of how rapidly they may flip it on in assault, however little got here of it – and it was Charles De Ketelaere who got here closest on the break as Atalanta didn’t present a shred of debut ultimate nerves nor any results from the absence of injured captain Marten de Roon.

Leverkusen swapped defender Josip Stanisic for prime scorer Victor Boniface at halftime, nevertheless it modified little as each units of travelling followers continued to create the form of Aviva Stadium noise matched solely by a number of the Irish rugby groups’ well-known wins or memorable worldwide soccer nights of years passed by.

Leverkusen had solely failed to attain as soon as through the run that featured 42 wins in all competitions and 17 targets scored in or after the ninetieth minute, however there was no such comeback on Wednesday in opposition to the resolute Atalanta backline.

“The normality is to not get defeated within the 52nd recreation. Usually it occurs a lot earlier within the season. It’s been fairly distinctive what now we have achieved, and now we have to be actually proud,” Alonso advised a information convention.

“We had been lacking many issues for certain. It’s very demanding to play in opposition to Atalanta, quite a lot of twin conditions, very bodily … It occurs, it’s soccer, at present wasn’t our day. They had been higher.”

Lookman, who accomplished his hat-trick with one other gorgeous strike into the highest nook, this time together with his left foot, grew to become the sixth individual to attain three targets in a serious European ultimate and first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Monchengladbach within the 1975 UEFA Cup.

He was flung into the air by his teammates when the ultimate whistle blew, and the Bergamo membership ended the 61-year wait since their 1963 Italian Cup triumph.

“It’s probably the greatest nights of my life,” Lookman, who cradled the match ball as he collected his winners’ medal, advised TNT Sports activities.

“It was an incredible efficiency from the staff. We did it … We made historical past tonight.”

lookman atalanta
Ademola Lookman celebrates with the trophy after successful the Europa League [Hannah Mckay/Reuters]

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