Ademola Lookman scores stunning hat-trick to win Europa League and end Bayer Leverkusen run

Will Ford
Lookman Atalanta
Ademola Lookman scored a brilliant hat-trick to win the Europa League for Atalanta.

Ademola Lookman’s stunning hat-trick fired Atalanta to their first silverware since 1963 as Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten season came to an end in the Europa League final.

Lookman, the London-born Nigeria striker who began his career at Charlton, produced two excellent first-half finishes and added a brilliant third 15 minutes from time as Atalanta romped to a 3-0 success in Dublin.

Six-decade wait over for Atalanta

Victory gave Atalanta only the second trophy in their 116-year history, over six decades after the Bergamo side had won the Coppa Italia.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s team had lost to Juventus in the final of the Coppa Italia seven days earlier but they recovered from that setback to knock Leverkusen out of their stride.

And Lookman, once of Everton, Fulham and Leicester, provided the cutting edge to reward a polished all-round performance.

Leverkusen came into the Aviva Stadium showdown fancied to savour more glory in a campaign that has almost defied belief.

Xabi Alonso’s side were on the brink of an invincible season having won the first Bundesliga title in their history.

Leverkusen unbeaten run over

Leverkusen had gone 51 games unbeaten and were contesting the Europa League final ahead of Saturday’s German Cup showpiece occasion against second-tier Kaiserslautern.

But Leverkusen did not seem prepared for Atalanta’s high press that forced early mistakes and set the tone of the contest.

Granit Xhaka was guilty of losing possession for Matteo Ruggeri to set up a headed opportunity for Gianluca Scamacca.

If that was a clear warning, Leverkusen did not heed it and Atalanta were ahead after 12 minutes.

Teun Koopmeiners pounced on a partially-cleared corner and slipped a delightful pass inside to Davide Zappacosta, who pulled it back into a dangerous area.

The ball travelled across the box and, with Exequiel Palacios back on his heels and unaware of imminent danger, Lookman stole in to convert with a firm side-foot.

Josip Stanisic directed a deflected shot straight at Juan Musso but the Italians continued to show menace with Scamacca sending a Lookman pass over the crossbar.

Matters got worse for Leverkusen after 26 minutes with their failure to maintain possession and defend the transition again costing them.

Lookman took care of a loose ball before slipping it through the legs of Xhaka and finding the net from 20 yards with an unstoppable curling shot.

Leverkusen should have halved the deficit when Alex Grimaldo was played through and Musso had advanced too far.

It was not a difficult task for Grimaldo to chip Musso but his effort failed to clear the grateful goalkeeper.

Atalanta might have put the game beyond Leverkusen at half-time after Scamacca had released Charles De Ketelaere with a wonderful pass from the outside of the right foot.

Kovar held De Ketelaere’s effort at his near post but Alonso knew change was necessary and Victor Boniface was sent on for the second half to add guile to the Leverkusen attack.

Amine Adli drove forward from his wing-back station to force a flying save from Musso, with Jeremie Frimpong unable to keep the rebound down.

Leverkusen were the comeback kings of European football having scored 10 equalisers or winners in the 90th minute or injury time, including two in one game, in 2024.

But the Germans had no answer this time as Scamacca found Lookman on the left with defenders desperately retreating.

Lookman bought some space with a stepover and planted a vicious left-foot shot past Kovar to start the Atalanta celebrations.