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Atalanta 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen – Ademola Lookman hat-trick ends invincible season

Superb treble from former Charlton Athletic Academy youngster inspires Atalanta to first silverware in 61 years

Xabi Alonso Bayer Leverkusen

Ademola Lookman netted a sublime hat-trick as Atalanta produced an inspired performance in the Europa League Final in Dublin to end Leverkusen’s invincible campaign.

The Charlton Athletic Academy product scored twice in 14 first-half minutes and sealed his treble late on as La Dea claimed their first silverware in 61 years and just the second trophy in their 116-year history.

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Gian Piero Gasperini masterminded the victory with a tactical masterclass which overshadowed Xabi Alonso, who saw his side lose for the first time in 361 days, ending their record 51-match unbeaten run.

Atalanta flew out of the blocks with high energy and aggressive pressing and Leverkusen looked far from the composed side which topped the Bundesliga in such style.

The Italians took a deserved lead in the 12th minute when 26-year-old Lookman nipped in to beat the static Exequiel Palacios to a low ball across the area from Davide Zappacosta and slam a left-footed shot into the top corner of Matej Kovar’s goal.

Leverkusen rallied briefly and Josip Stanisic might have done better than shoot straight at Juan Musso but Lookman then doubled the lead with a sublime solo goal on 26 minutes.

Former Swindon and Burton loanee Kovar’s clearance to midfield was knocked back into his own half by Amine Adli where Lookman picked up the ball, slipped it through Granit Xhaka’s legs 20 yards from goal and bent a powerful shot into the bottom corner.

Out-of-sorts Leverkusen tried to recover but Alex Grimaldo could only shoot tamely into the arms of Musso as he flew off his line just after the half-hour and Xhaka later whipped a bouncing shot past the post.

Former West Ham man Gianluca Scamacca went close from distance at the other end and then curled a sublime pass to Charles De Ketelaere who was denied a third by Kovar.

Alonso sent on Victor Boniface in place of Stanisic at the break and his side did improve and Jeremie Frimpong lashed over the bar after the keeper had parried a cross from Adli just before the hour while Musso bravely beat Grimaldo to a floated cross from the unusually low-key Florian Wirtz.

Four times this season Alonso’s side had come back from two or more goals down but this time the game was up 15 minutes from time when Atalanta broke and Scamacca found Lookman on the left to bustle into the box and arrow an angled strike into the top corner.

Patrik Schik went close with a flick and saw a penalty appeal dismissed after a VAR review as his side suffered their first defeat since they went down 3-0 at Bochum on May 27, 2023 and failed to score for only the second time this season.

The 1963 Coppa Italia was the only previous trophy in Atalanta’s 116 year history while Gasperini’s side had lost the 2024 Coppa Italia final 1-0 to Juventus just a week earlier – their third cup final defeat under their manager.

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.