Lookman fires Atalanta to historic Europa League triumph with hat-trick

DUBLIN: Ademola Lookman scored a stunning hat-trick as Atalanta triumphed 3-0 over Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final on Wednesday, securing just the second major trophy in their 117-year history and ending the German champions’ remarkable unbeaten streak.

Lookman, who had struggled to make his mark in the English Premier League with Everton, Fulham, and Leicester City, has found a new lease of life in Italy under Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini. His brace in the first 26 minutes set the tone for the match, and he completed his hat-trick 15 minutes from fulltime, sealing a memorable victory.

The win marks a significant milestone for Gasperini, who has been in pursuit of major silverware for two decades. Atalanta’s masterful performance saw them outplay Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen, nicknamed ‘Neverlusen’ for their incredible 51-game unbeaten run, with clinical efficiency.

Leverkusen appeared off-balance from the start, and some uncharacteristic errors handed Gianluca Scamacca an early chance, which he narrowly missed. Minutes later, Davide Zappacosta exploited space down the right wing, delivering a precise cross that Lookman converted with ease, putting Atalanta ahead.

Leverkusen, who had only failed to score once during their unbeaten streak, were unable to find their rhythm against Atalanta’s resolute defense. The German side, known for their late comebacks and dramatic finishes, found no such luck on this occasion.

Alonso acknowledged his team’s remarkable season despite the defeat, saying, “The normality is not to get defeated in the 52nd game. Normally it happens much earlier in the season. It’s been quite exceptional what we have achieved and we have to be really proud.”

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