Atalanta 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen: Ademola Lookman nets stunning Europa League final hat-trick to end unbeaten run

Hat-trick hero: Ademola Lookman fired Atalanta to victory in Dublin (AP)
Hat-trick hero: Ademola Lookman fired Atalanta to victory in Dublin (AP)

Atalanta won their first major trophy in 61 years as a stunning hat-trick from Ademola Lookman ended Bayer Leverkusen’s extraordinary unbeaten run with a 3-0 win in the Europa League final.

Lookman scored twice inside the opening half an hour in Dublin and, for once, there was no response from Leverkusen. They toiled in the second-half, Atalanta always comfortable in their lead, and with 15 minutes an uphill task became a mountainous one, as Lookman rifled a finish into the top corner to claim the match ball and see off Leverkusen, who were beaten for the first time this season in any competition to end a 51-match streak.

Xabi Alonso’s side, Bundesliga champions this season, were two wins away from an ‘Invincible treble’ ahead of their trip to Ireland, with a German Cup final this weekend, but they managed just three shots on target and little in the way of sustained threat in the face of wonderful team performance from Atalanta. A first ever European title is only the second major piece of silverware in the club’s 117-year history.

“We did not plan on having a bad day today, but it was not meant to be,” Alonso told TNT Sports.

“We could not cope with many difficult situations that we were preparing because Atalanta demand so much of you. One v one situations, duels, but we were not getting the ball in the right situations to take advantage. They do that so well.

“It was not about tactics. Individually they were better and as a team as well.”

The build-up to the final was, unsurprisingly, dominated by talk of destiny for Leverkusen, this billed as the next step on a seemingly inevitable road to a perfect campaign.

But this was Atalanta’s second final of the month, having been narrowly beaten by Juventus in the Coppa Italia, and a 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield in the quarter-finals, amid talk of various storylines involving Jurgen Klopp and a final between Alonso and his former club, was evidence the Italian side had little interest in following scripts.

Atalanta proved too good for Leverkusen as they claimed European glory (Getty Images)
Atalanta proved too good for Leverkusen as they claimed European glory (Getty Images)

"I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it," Atalanta boss Gasperini said after masterminding a performance surely beyond even his expectations.

"It was just extraordinary. We defeated Liverpool, Sporting [Lisbon] who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool, they were first in the Premier League. And now the German champions. Incredible. The boys were extraordinary, a memorable performance."

It was an impressive start in Dublin, Leverkusen harried and rattled, Atalanta feverish and relentless, and the opening goal came as no surprise. Davide Zappacosta got in down the right, cut the ball back and Lookman, too sharp for the napping Exequiel Palacios, was on hand to provide the finish.

Leverkusen struggled to keep hold of the ball, the decision to play without a centre forward not helping their cause to get up the pitch, and another turnover brought the second goal. Lookman brilliantly nutmegged Granit Xhaka and, from 20 yards out, whipped a superb finish into the far corner.

Alonso has seen his side pull off comebacks on a regular basis, but he cut an animated figure on the touchline and was duly concerned to act at half-time to bring on Victor Boniface up front.

The striker barely had a kick, though, as the second-half brought more of the same. Atalanta showed no signs of tiring, their work-rate all across the pitch incredible, and Leverkusen found no way to calm an inspired showing from the Italian side.

Previous results alone were enough to give Leverkusen hope of mounting a late charge, but this felt different. Atalanta were rock-solid at the back and put the match to bed with another moment of magic from a familiar source. Gianluca Scamacca played the ball wide to Lookman, he drove into the box and, having shifted it onto his left foot, hammered a strike beyond Matej Kovar. A hat-trick for Lookman ensured Leverkusen will not have one of their own.