Atalanta dominates final in Dublin to win Europa League

Serie A club wins first-ever international title, hands Bayer Leverkusen first defeat of season
Coach Gian Piero Gasperini is the great architect of Atalanta's success
Coach Gian Piero Gasperini is the great architect of Atalanta's success / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen faced each other in Dublin, Aviva Stadium, in the UEFA Europa League final.

Coach Gian Piero Gasperini sent out the offensive trident formed by Ademola Lookman, Charles De Ketelaere and Gianluca Scamacca, unable to count on captain Marten De Roon absent due to an injury he suffered in the Coppa Italia final against Juventus.

For his part, Xabi Alonso replicated the line-up seen in the semifinal against AS Roma with the sole exception of the talented Florian Wirtz, recently awarded best player in the Bundesliga, who this time started.

Both teams approached the match with intense pace and rapid forward moves. Atalanta came out on top in terms of pressing and ball recovery, showing greater determination and effectiveness.

The Italian team took the lead in the 12th minute, following a clearance from a corner in their favor. Atalanta immediately recovered and played to the right side of the pitch where winger Davide Zappacosta got free down the flank before seding a low cross through the box where Ademola Lookman stepped inside Exequiel Palacios who was unaware the Nigeria international was racing in from behind. Lookman planted the ball in the back of the net as Palacios reacted late.

After conceding, Bayer Leverkusen sought to respond, with Jeremie Frimpong racing down the wing to deliver a cross that was botched by Alejandro Grimaldo.

Atalanta returned to the attack and in minute 26 the Italians found the second goal, again from Lookman.

Leading 2-0, Atalanta continued with their furious pressing and the German team failed to find a ready tactical solution. On several occasions they turned the ball over in their own end, then had to recover to prevent going down 3-0.

The German team slowly regained their composure but failed to create scoring opportunities.

The one first-half chance that arrived was wasted by Grimaldo who'd gotten behind the defense only to send a meek lob into the hands of goalkeeper Juan Musso who was way off his line.

Ademola Lookman
Ademola Lookman is the first African footballer to score a hat trick in a European final. / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Alonso opened the second half hoping to create a more physical attack as his swifter forwards did little in the first 45 minutes, but Atalanta's tight defensive lines frustrated Leverkusen's offense.

By the hour mark, Atalanta stepped away from constant pressure, preferring to wait for the ball and leap to the counterattack. The strategy worked perfectly.

In the 75th minute, Scamacca found Lookman wide left and the winger ran at his marker, created space with a bicycle step, then blasted a left-footer that beat Matej Kovar to complete his hat trick

In addition to Man of the Match Lookman, it is worth highlighting the great individual performances of Atalanta midfielders Ederson, recently called up to the Brazilian national team, and Teun Koopmeiners.

For Leverkusen there wasn't much time left and consequently even the attempts to create offensive actions were not accompanied by the necessary conviction of being able to reopen the match.


The triumph for Atalanta represents the first major trophy win at international level for the Italian club and the first trophy for Gasperini, sealing an extraordinary journey at the technical helm of the Bergamo team that began eight years ago.