Dublin, IrelandDigimaz.com – In a stunning display of football prowess, Atalanta winger Ademola Lookman shattered Bayer Leverkusen’s dream of an unbeaten season, leading his team to a decisive 3-0 victory in the Europa League final on Wednesday. Lookman’s hat trick not only secured the title for Atalanta but also ended Leverkusen’s remarkable 51-game unbeaten run in European competition.

Lookman, the London-born Nigeria international, was relentless, capitalizing on Leverkusen’s defensive errors to net twice in the first 26 minutes. His clinical performance was capped with a third goal in the 75th minute, cementing his status as the man of the match.

Leverkusen, newly crowned German champions, were favorites heading into the final but struggled to find their rhythm. Lookman’s first goal came after a defensive lapse by Leverkusen’s Exequiel Palacios, who was caught off guard by a cross from Davide Zappacosta. Lookman exploited the moment, scoring with a powerful rising shot.

The second goal followed another defensive mishap, this time from Amine Adli. His misguided header back towards his own defense allowed Lookman to seize possession, evade Granit Xhaka, and curl the ball into the net past goalkeeper Matěj Kovář.

Throughout the match, Atalanta’s players demonstrated physical commitment and tight marking, disrupting Leverkusen’s typically fluid style of play. The Italian side’s aggressive approach paid off, as they continually pressured Leverkusen into making mistakes and dominated possession.

Leverkusen, known for their late-game comebacks, found no such fortune in Dublin. Attempts by Álex Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong were easily handled by Atalanta’s goalkeeper Juan Musso. The German side’s frustrations were evident, with coach Xabi Alonso visibly dejected as the final whistle approached.

Alonso’s tactical decision to start Palacios over Robert Andrich in midfield backfired, with the Argentine World Cup winner’s error setting the tone for a difficult night. Despite a season filled with successes, including the German Cup final on Saturday where they are favorites against second-tier Kaiserslautern, Leverkusen’s European campaign ended in disappointment.

The victory marked a historic moment for Atalanta and their veteran coach Gian Piero Gasperini. The win is the club’s first top-level trophy in 61 years, a testament to their well-run, modestly budgeted approach in an era dominated by big-money clubs.

As the final minutes ticked away, the contrast between the two coaches was stark. Alonso stood alone, hands in pockets, a picture of frustration. In contrast, Gasperini, at 66, was jubilant, celebrating with his players and staff in anticipation of their well-deserved triumph.

Amidst the celebrations, the fans from Bergamo, though outnumbered, were in full voice, their cheers echoing through the Aviva Stadium. Their team’s spirited and disciplined performance had delivered a memorable victory, one that will be cherished in Atalanta’s history.

As Atalanta revels in their success, Leverkusen must regroup quickly for their upcoming domestic final. The challenge now for Alonso is to lift his players’ spirits and ensure they finish the season on a high note, despite the bitter European setback.

Source : NBC Newyork

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