HomeSPORTSAdemola Lookman Scores Hat-Trick to Secure Atalanta's First European Cup Title

Ademola Lookman Scores Hat-Trick to Secure Atalanta’s First European Cup Title

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Afor Kenneth

Ademola Lookman was the star of the night, scoring three goals to end Bayern Leverkusen’s unbeaten run and secure Atalanta’s first European Cup title.

Lookman became the first player in 49 years to score a hat-trick in a European final, leading Atalanta to their first continental trophy.

The team from Bergamo has often been overshadowed by nearby giants AC and Inter Milan. However, under Gian Piero Gasperini, they have experienced a golden era, qualifying for the Champions League four times and now winning a major trophy.

Leverkusen, known for their late comebacks in their impressive run to an undefeated Bundesliga title, failed to recover from a slow start this time.

Atalanta’s determined play was rewarded early on. After just 12 minutes, Davide Zappacosta reached the by-line and Lookman capitalized on Exequiel Palacios’s lapse, firing into the top corner.

Lookman, who has had a nomadic career with loan spells at Fulham and Leicester after leaving RB Leipzig, has found a home in Bergamo, where he will be remembered as a hero.

His second goal was a spectacular one, nutmegging Granit Xhaka before curling a powerful shot into the far corner.

Despite being 2-0 down for the fourth time in seven Europa League knockout matches, Xabi Alonso’s team couldn’t turn the game around. Leverkusen’s full-backs, key to their successful season, missed crucial chances. Alex Grimaldo shot weakly at Juan Musso, and Jeremie Frimpong missed an open goal.

Leverkusen were also denied a lifeline when Gianluca Scamacca escaped with a yellow card for a wild challenge on Florian Wirtz.

Alonso, a rapidly rising coaching talent who has turned down offers from Liverpool and Bayern Munich to stay at BayArena, saw his strategy to start without a recognised striker backfire. Victor Boniface was brought on at half-time, but the damage was already done. The German champions appeared exhausted by their demanding season.

Atalanta soaked up the pressure in the second half and hit on the counter-attack. Lookman completed his hat-trick with a superb finish, skipping past Edmond Tapsoba and blasting into the top corner with his weaker left foot.

Having lost all three previous finals under Gasperini, including last week’s Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus, Atalanta finally secured their historic win. They were cheered on by thousands of fans who traveled from northern Italy to the Irish capital.

With this victory, Atalanta became the first Italian team to win the competition since Parma lifted the UEFA Cup in 1999.

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