Europa League Final Report: Atalanta 3 - 0 Bayer Leverkusen

Ademola Lookman of Atalanta BC shoots for his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between Atalanta BC and Bayer Leverkusen at Dublin Arena, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Ademola Lookman of Atalanta BC shoots for his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between Atalanta BC and Bayer Leverkusen at Dublin Arena, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Credit: David Ribeiro (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from the Dublin Arena on Lansdowne Road

We came to see some history with Bayer Leverkusen looking to collect the second leg of an unbeaten treble. It wasn’t to be for the Bundesliga champions but we still got to see something historic. Ademola Lookman became the first player to score a Europa League Final hat-trick as his goals led La Dea to their first ever European trophy. Leverkusen are invincible no more – they lost finally in their 52nd game of the season.

The ground on Lansdowne Road had maybe never had an atmosphere quite like it. The first Europa League final to be played here back in 2011 didn’t sell out and as an all Portuguese tie it was a way a more pedestrian affair on and off the pitch with Porto beating Braga 1-0.

This time around the place was rocking and literally bouncing as both the fans of Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta gave the game a soundtrack of constant singing, drumming and whistling. 

The German side brought more of the support but it was the Italian fans who were happiest with the first half as they led 2-0 at the break and only got louder as the game went on.

Lookman had carved out the game’s first chance dancing through the German defence to feed Matteo Ruggeri wide left. His centre came to Gianluca Scamacca but Piero Hincapie did enough to mean the centre forward headed wide.

The opener came in the 12th minute and it was a tidy finish from Lookman as he exploited a lapse in concentration from Exequiel Palacios. 

Teun Koopmeiners had found Davide Zappacosta in space and he took the ball into the Bayer box and his centre came laterally across the area. Palacios was caught and could only look on as Lookman stepped in from behind him and his tidy left foot finish found the top left hand corner of the goal.

Zappacosta and Lookman linked up well throughout the half with Leverkusen only coming into the game late on and by then they were two goals down.

Lookman picked up a poor backwards header from Armine Adli that Florian Wirtz couldn’t get to. The Nigerian took on and beat Granit Xhaka to bend the ball into the back of the net.

It could have been 3-0 when Charles De Ketelaere forced Matej Kovar into a save having taken the ball on from a nice outside-of-the-boot pass by Gianluca Scamacca.

Xhaka let fly with shot late on in the half that skipped off the turf but wide of the Atalanta frame of the goal.

Xabi Alonso had left a lot of fire power on his bench including Patrik Schick and Victor Boniface - both had scored five goals in this competition this season. Boniface was brought on at the start of the second half as Leverkusen looked to get back into the game and he added to their game holding up the ball bringing more runners into play.

With De Ketelaere lurking at the backpost, Hincapie did well to save the day with a timely intervention on the edge of his six yard box five minutes into the second period.

Leverkusen began to get on top as the second half wore on. They probed around the Atalanta defence with Jeremie Frimpong blazing a volley over the bar from a Adil cross when he maybe had more time.

However, the Italian side sealed their victory 15 minutes from time when Atalanta exploited the space left behind as Leverkusen pressed high. Lookman got clear space to run into and bagged his hat-trick blasting an effort by Majej Kovar from the edge of the area.

Atalanta had only ever won one major trophy prior to tonight – the 1963 Coppa Italia – but now they have added the Europa League having done it the hard way in the knock out stages beating Liverpool, Marseille and now the previously invincible Leverkusen.

Kudos to Gian Piero Gasperini who masterminded the win – his team took the game to Die Werself and their victory was well deserved.

Alonso had spoken before the game that his team “maybe they no longer believe in defeat” but they were brought back to reality by Lookman’s goals and now they will need to pick themselves up for Saturday’s DFB-Pokal against Kaiserslautern as they seek to complete their first ever domestic double.

Atalanta: Juan Musso; Berat Djimsiti, Isak Hien, Sead Kolasinac (Girogio Scalvini 46); Davide Zappacosta (Hans Hateboer 83), Ederson da Silva, Teun Koopmeiners, Matteo Ruggeri (Rafael Tolói 90+1); Charles De Ketelaere (Mario Pasalic 57), Gianluca Scamacca (El Bilal Touré 83), Ademola Lookman.
Subs not used: Francesco Rossi, Marco Carnesecchi, Mitchel Bakker, Emil Holm, Michel Adopo, Marten de Roon, Alexey Miranchuk.
Booked: Berat Djimsiti (22), Gianluca Scamacca (35), Davide Zappacosta (60), Teun Koopmeiners (70).

Bayer Leverkusen: Matej Kovar; Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah, Josip Stanisic (Victor Boniface 46); Jeremie Frimpong (Nathan Tella 81), Granit Xhaka, Exequiel Palacios, Piero Hincapie; Florian Witz (Patrik Schick 81), Alejandro Grimaldo (Adam Hlozek 69); Amine Adli.

Subs not used: Niklas Lomb, Lukas Hradecky, Lukas Hradecky, Ramazan Ozcan, Mitchell Weiser, Exequiel Palacios, Odilon Kossounou, Daley Sinkgraven, Adrian Stanilewicz, Borja Iglesias, Joel Pohjanpalo, Paulinho, Gerardo Seoane.
Booked: Florian Wirtz (35), Edmond Tapsoba (67), Robert Andrich (73).

Referee: István Kovács. 
Attendance: 50,000 (estimate) Player of the Match: Ademola Lookman (Atalanta)