HomeTeams - OtherAtalantaLookman’s Hat-Trick Ends Atalanta’s 61-Year Trophy Drought

Lookman’s Hat-Trick Ends Atalanta’s 61-Year Trophy Drought

Atalanta Triumphs in Europa League as Lookman Shines

Ademola Lookman delivered a masterclass performance, scoring a sensational hat-trick to help Atalanta end their 61-year trophy drought. The Italian side devastated Bayer Leverkusen’s dream of an unbeaten season in the Europa League final at a vibrant Aviva Stadium.

A Night to Remember in Dublin

Dublin was a sea of colour and support, with fans from both sides filling the stadium. This was Atalanta’s first European final and only Leverkusen’s third. Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen had remained unbeaten in 51 games this season, just two matches away from perfection. However, Lookman, the former Charlton Athletic winger, had other plans.

Lookman’s Hat-trick Heroics

Lookman opened the scoring by slotting the ball into the top corner from Davide Zappacosta’s precise cutback. His second goal was a moment of magic, nutmegging Granit Xhaka before curling a sublime shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. For his third, Lookman showcased his flair, performing a step-over to beat Edmond Tapsoba before blasting the ball into the roof of the net.

Leverkusen, renowned for their dramatic comebacks, couldn’t mount another one this time. Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactical acumen, combined with a relentless pressing game, ensured Atalanta’s victory. This win adds a second trophy to Atalanta’s cabinet in Bergamo, next to their 1963 Coppa Italia, and secures them a spot in next season’s Champions League, a qualification not yet certain through Serie A.

The Making of a Memorable Final

Attention was firmly on Leverkusen’s quest for an unbeaten run, but Atalanta and Lookman were unfazed. Since Gasperini’s arrival in 2016, Atalanta has been transformed from a yo-yo club into European regulars. Despite losing all three Coppa Italia finals under his tenure, including last week to Juventus, the team was determined to make history.

The match began with Atalanta coming out aggressively. Zappacosta’s assist set up Lookman, who celebrated with several figures from the bench storming onto the pitch, underlining the goal’s significance. Lookman, a 2022 signing from RB Leipzig, further solidified his importance with a dazzling display that saw him double their lead. It was the fastest two-goal lead in a tournament final since Liverpool against Alaves in 2001 when it was called the UEFA Cup.

Lookman’s hat-trick was a rare feat, being only the sixth in a European final, the last occurring in the 1975 UEFA Cup final by Jupp Heynckes for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Leverkusen’s Unbeaten Streak Ends

Despite the defeat, this season will be etched in Bayer Leverkusen’s history, as they became the first team to go unbeaten in a Bundesliga season. However, the dream of an unbeaten season in European competition was shattered. For the first time in 361 days, they tasted defeat.

Even when trailing 2-0, the statistics favoured Leverkusen, who had recovered from two-goal deficits four times already this season. There were opportunities, such as Alex Grimaldo’s chip being saved and Xhaka missing the target, but they lacked the decisive touch.

In the final minute, a VAR check for a Leverkusen penalty was dismissed, sealing their fate. The German side barely protested, accepting their first setback under Alonso’s management. Alonso must quickly regroup his team for the German Cup final against second-tier Kaiserslautern in Berlin, aiming to complete a domestic double.

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