Atalanta win Europa League with stunning demolition of Bayer Leverkusen

Atalanta crushed Bayer Leverkusen to win the 2024 Europa League final on Wednesday night, with winger Ademola Lookman in devastating form at the AVIVA Stadium in Dublin.

Not only was it a first ever European trophy for Atalanta, it spectacularly ended Leverkusen’s unbeaten season. The newly crowned German champions had gone 51 games without losing in all competition prior to arriving in the Irish capital, but Xabi Alonso’s side found themselves completely suffocated by the tactical strength of Gian Piero Gasperini.

Leverkusen weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but Atalanta were just better in every way.

Lookman, once of Everton, Fulham and Leicester City, has seen his previously stop-start career take off since moving to Bergamo in 2022. His breathtaking hat-trick was of the highest quality.

The first goal, just 11 minutes in, was the most simple of the three, ghosting in front of his marker in the penalty to clinically turn a low ball across the box into the net.

The next, midway through the first half, was made possible by a cheeky nutmeg on Granit Xhaka before lashing the ball into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The Nigerian international was a man full of confidence and saved arguably his best for last. Leverkusen defender Edmond Tapsoba was hesitant about engaging him, for obvious reason when an electrifying stepover pushed the ball forward as Lookman viciously found the top corner.

For Atalanta, it caps off their incredible rise under Gasperini’s leadership since 2016. They were a Serie B club as recently as 2011 and had never finished higher than fifth in Serie A – which they achieved in the 1940s – until cracking the top four in the 2016/17 season. They have qualified for the Champions League multiple times since then, with this Europa League triumph securing their return to the continent’s elite competition for next season.

Leverkusen’s season is not over. They will still contest the DFB Pokal final against Cologne on Saturday, with the chance to finish an incredible campaign with a domestic double.


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