Atalanta vs Leverkusen 3-0: La Dea Triumphs in Europa League Final!

A perfect match. That’s what Atalanta put together at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night as they pulverized Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the Europa League Final. Ademola Lookman absolutely stole the stage as he scored all three goals in La Dea‘s triumph but it was the whole Nerazzurri squad to shine. 

They showcased their best version of themselves, a perfect sum-up of the eight years of Gian Piero Gasperini’s football philosophy. The Turin-born coach might no be everyone’s cup of tea with his attitude, but there’s no denying that his tenure in Bergamo has been an absolute masterpiece.

Gasperini took what was a mid-table club and raised them to the level of a European powerhouse, capable of holding its own in Champions League or crushing the likes of Liverpool, all while playing some of the most entertaining football seen in Europe in the past few years.

Tonight’s crushing win was the appropriate climax for a project that started long ago. He approached the battle against the seemingly invincible Bayer Leverkusen – the German were coming from a 51-game non-losing streak – with no fear as he opted for an ultra-offensive setup featuring Charles De Ketelaere, Gianluca Scamacca and Lookman upfront. He won the game before his boys even set foot on the pitch. 

Lookman Strikes Twice as Atalanta Dominate First Half

Atalanta were a joy for the eye. They assaulted the opponents from the get go using their usual weapons: fast pace, high energy, and smothering press all over the pitch. Leverkusen found themselves unprepared and the Nerazzurri’s first goal was a logical consequence.

It came on 12 minutes when Davide Zappacosta opened a breach in the German defense from the right. His sharp cross in the middle of the box was met by Lookman and whipped into the back of the net as Exequiel Palacios failed to mark him properly. 

Atalanta smelled blood and did not slow down after opening the scoring. Their pressure forced Bayer into committing some mistakes that were unprecedented in their so far fantastic season. Twenty-six minutes into the game, the Nerazzurri made it two as they took advantage of some sloppy ball control from the Germans in the midfield area.   

It was Lookman again to make it to the scoresheet and his second goal was one to tell his grandchildren about. The Nigerian recovered the ball, dribbled past one man, then found the far right corner of the net out of Matej Kovar’s reach with a clinical right-foot shot. 

The Germans had a feeble reaction and risked catching La Dea by surprise on the counter in a couple of occasions, but couldn’t go beyond a lob attempt from Alejandro Grimaldo which Juan Musso blocked. Atalanta’s Europa League goalkeeper was always well alert tonight, instilling further confidence in his side.  

Lookman Bags His Hat Trick to Make History for La Dea

Xabi Alonso must have thought it was time to make some changes and indeed he introduced striker Victor Boniface for a midfielder, Josip Stanicic, right after the restart. But Atalanta continued to be in control of the operations. Their defensive line made up by Berat Djimsiti, Isak Hien, and Giorgio Scalvini (who replaced the injured Kolasinac at half time) didn’t miss a beat as Musso continued to defuse any challenge that came his way.

Jeremie Frimpong’s missed shot on 59 minutes from a very favorable position was the perfect image of Leverkusen’s night. Aside from Atalanta’s heroics, the new Bundesliga champions were just not themselves.

Gasperini and his boys couldn’t ask for more. They should have made it three early in the second half already, but De Ketelaere came a split second late when Teun Koopmeiners sent the ball in the middle of the box from the left, allowing Piero Hincapié to clear it.  

But if the former Milan man was just a tiny bit wasteful tonight, the same cannot be said about his teammate Lookman. With 15 minutes to go, the Nigerian finalized a textbook counterattack with a terrific shot into the top right corner of poor Kovar, setting the score at 3-0. 

The rest of the game was pure agony for Bayer as Xabi Alonso sat speechless and dumbfounded in his bench. After four minutes of stoppage time, it was over. The 9000 fans who traveled from Bergamo to follow’s Atalanta rendezvous with History could kick off celebrations.

This is the first time that the Europa League is won by an Italian team, breaking a drought that lasted since 1999, when Parma triumphed in its previous incarnation, the UEFA Cup. 



May 22, 2024 – UEFA Europa League 2023/2024 Final

SCORERS: 12′ Lookman, 26′ Lookman, 75′ Lookman

ATALANTA (3-4-2-1): Musso; Djimsiti, Hien, Kolasinac (46′ Scalvini); Zappacosta (84′ Hateboer), Ederson, Koopmeiners, Ruggeri (91′ Toloi); De Ketelaere (57′ Pasalic), Lookman; Scamacca (84′ Touré) (Carnesecchi, Rossi, Scalvini, Bonfanti, Holm, Bakker, Adopo, Miranchuk) Coach: Gasperini
BAYER LEVERKUSEN (3-4-3): Kovar; Tapsobah, Tah, Hincapie; Stanisic (46′ Boniface), Xhaka, Palacios (69′ Andrich), Grimaldo (69′ Hlozek); Adli, Wirtz (81′ Schick), Frimpong (81′ Tella) (Hradecky, Lomb, Kossounou, Arthur, Puerta, Hofmann, Iglesias) Coach: Xabi Alonso
REFEREE: Mr. Kovacs (Romania)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Djimsiti, Scamacca, Zappacosta, Koopmeiners (A), Wirtz, Tapsoba, Andrich (L); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 4′