Lookman historic hat-trick gives Atalanta continental glory

Lookman historic hat-trick gives Atalanta continental glory

History maker Ademola Lookman

Nigeria’s Ademola Lookman became the first player to score a hat-trick in a UEFA Europa League final, as Atalanta BC stunned Bayer Leverkusen with a 3-0 win, dramatically halting the Bundesliga champions’ 51-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

This was a final match-up that perhaps few would have predicted at the start of the season, with an all-conquering Leverkusen side ending a 22-year wait to compete in a European final against an Atalanta team making their first-ever appearance in a continental showpiece match. It was the Serie A side that struck first in a wonderfully crafted goal courtesy of Lookman, who ghosted into the box completely unmarked and fired a clinical, first-time strike past Matěj Kovář following some delightful link-up play involving Teun Koopmeiners and Davide Zappacosta.

La Dea’s press was continually causing issues for Xabi Alonso’s side, and Lookman made the Bundesliga champions pay again for some more uncharacteristically sloppy play by unleashing an unstoppable right-footed strike into the bottom corner to double Atalanta’s lead. Leverkusen almost had an unexpected lifeline when Florian Wirtz picked out Álex Grimaldo but the Spaniard failed to execute the lob and shot straight at Juan Musso, with the Argentine standing way outside his goal. Alonso’s men had failed to get going in this opening 45 minutes, while the tactically astute Gian Piero Gasperini had seen his game plan come to fruition in Dublin.

Die Werkself came out after the break with greater intensity, and Jeremie Frimpong fired a warning sign for the Bergamo outfit as he lashed a left-footed volley over the bar from Amine Adli’s ball across the box. Alonso’s men desperately needed another comeback which epitomised their season, but were lacking their usual edge against La Dea, who had their cards firmly marked. Ultimately, Lookman extinguished any hopes of Leverkusen forging a way back into this contest with a ferocious angled finish from the left-hand side after being teed up by Gianluca Scamacca.

It is a night that will go down in Atalanta folklore after claiming their first-ever European honours, and one which will be remembered forever by Gasperini, who wins his first major trophy of an already widely-respected managerial career. Meanwhile, it is a case of so close, yet so far for a Leverkusen side that has enthralled and delighted in equal measure, but fell two games short of completing an unprecedented unbeaten treble.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Ademola Lookman (Atalanta BC)