Sports

History-maker Lookman and Gasperini masterclass power Atalanta to first-ever European triumph

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Italian side Atalanta are the new Europa League champions after a memorable evening in Dublin, Soccernet.football reports.

Ademola Lookman produced an individual performance of the highest quality to inspire Atalanta to win the 2023/2024 Europa League.

Lookman scored all the goals as Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta secured a 3-0 victory over Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Europa League final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Much of the pre-match focus had been on Xabi Alonso and his irresistible Bayer Leverkusen side that had been unbeaten in all competitions this season.

However, Gasperini came out as the master tactician, setting up his men to neutralise Bayer Leverkusen and capitalise on their opponent’s weaknesses.

It took only 12 minutes for Atalanta to draw first blood as Lookman got on the end of Davide Zappacosta’s cross to put the Italians ahead.

In the 26th minute, Lookman struck again when he danced past his marker before curling a brilliant effort into the far corner, becoming the first African to score twice in the final of a European competition.

Bayer Leverkusen were rattled and Xabi Alonso made his move at halftime, sending in Nigerian forward Victor Boniface who had surprisingly started the game on the bench.

The introduction of Boniface, however, failed to spark Bayer’s comeback as another stunning Lookman finish extended Atalanta’s advantage.

Lookman’s third goal again got him into the record books as the first player to net a hat-trick in the final of the Europa League.

At the final whistle, it was Atalanta and their fans who were celebrating the club’s first-ever European Cup triumph, with Lookman the undoubted hero.