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Atalanta 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen: Lookman hat-trick ends Alonso’s unbeaten streak as La Dea seal Europa League title

Atalanta claimed a 3-0 win over the previously unbeatable Bayer Leverkusen to win the Europa League at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this evening.

An Ademola Lookman hat-trick set La Dea on their way to their first piece of silverware since 2011 as they ended Leverkusen’s 52-game unbeaten run.

The Nigerian international ghosted into the Leverkusen box and finished off a Davide Zappacosta cross in the 12th minute, taking Exequiel Palacios by surprise.

Xabi Alonso’s decision to go with the Argentine midfielder over Robert Andrich came back to bite him early on as Atalanta took the lead.

Atalanta’s famous man-for-man press was causing Leverkusen all sorts of problems, and their midfield refused to allow Leverkusen’s Granit Xhaka to dictate proceedings.

Lookman doubled Atalanta’s lead in the 26th minute after a swift counterpress. The former Everton man nutmegged Xhaka before placing a gorgeous effort beyond Matej Kovar in the Leverkusen goal.

Die Werkself were never at it and went into the half-time break two goals down. They have made a habit of coming back from setbacks, but it was not to be today.

The Bundesliga side toiled to get back into the game, but Lookman capped the win for Atalanta with a brilliant third goal.

He received the ball from the incredibly lively Gianluca Scamacca before skipping past Edmond Tapsoba and rifling a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

The goal sealed a crucial win for Atalanta and secured Lookman’s CAF African Footballer of the Year nomination, for which he should be the favourite after his exploits at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.

Lookman is the first player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League final since 1975. He has now recorded 14 goals and eight assists this term, claiming a man-of-the-match performance on arguably the most important night for the Bergamo club.

Despite losing Rasmus Hojlund, Jeremie Boga, Joakim Maehle, Merih Demiral, Matteo Pessina, and Ruslan Malinovskyi, Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has finally claimed his first trophy.

Gasperini has lost three Coppa Italia finals but gets his hand on a trophy after eight years with Atalanta.

The defeat is a significant setback for Leverkusen after their historic unbeaten Bundesliga run.

Alonso will need to regroup his team before their upcoming DFB-Pokal final against FC Kaiserslautern.

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