Atalanta dominate Bayer Leverkusen, snap German club's 51-game unbeaten streak to win Europa League crown

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Atalanta won the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League after beating Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the final in Dublin. The Italian team won its first European trophy after playing in its first ever European final and also lifted its first major trophy since the 1963 Coppa Italia. This is also the only trophy won by Gian Piero Gasperini so far as manager in his coaching career, ending Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten run at 51 games. This is the first game lost by the side coached by Xabi Alonso this season, while it's Gasperini's 200th win at the club.

The Italians made history thanks to a hat trick scored by Ademola Lookman, who scored two goals in the first half and then the last one 15 minutes before the end of the game. Lookman's first goal arrived 12 minutes into the game, as the striker took advantage of a big mistake by the German defense, while the second one of the night arrived a few minutes later with an incredible strike from outside the box. 

Atalanta were able to hold on in the second half even if Leverkusen didn't play their best football of the season, and the underdogs managed to score the last and deciding goal in the 75th minute. Gasperini's team made history and will bring the big trophy back to Italy after a night that no Atalanta fan will ever forget. 

Atalanta's dream becomes reality

Atalanta's win is not a coincidence, but it's only the last step that was missing for one of the most successful cycles of recent years. Former club player and Italian businessman Antonio Percassi decided to buy the club back in 2010 and the fortunes changed for the better, and lately, it's been with big American influence. From that moment on everything changed for the team based in the north of Italy and just a one-hour drive from Milan. 

Atalanta started from zero and struggled for some years until manager Gasperini was appointed in 2016. The former Genoa coach created one of the most interesting projects of Italian soccer, based on young players from the academy and great scouting by the club directors during the past years. It worked so well that Atalanta reached Champions League soccer four times in recent years, including when they lost to PSG in the quarterfinals of the 2019-20 edition. This incredible growth was noticed by many outside the country as well and in February 2022 American businessman and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca acquired a 55% stake in the club alongside other investors.

Thanks to the hard work of Gasperini and the whole club that was able to keep the level high over the years, Atalanta are now one of the most exciting teams to watch around Europe and were able to make history against Bayer Leverkusen. They called them Bayer Neverlusen, only before facing Atalanta. 

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FT: ATALANTA WIN THE EUROPA LEAGUE! 

 
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ANOTHER ONE! Atalanta 3, Leverkusen 0

Third goal for Atalanta, third goal for Lookman. Another incredible strike and the Nerazzurri are now only 15 points away from their first ever European trophy! Xabi Alonso's side are also close to lose their first game of the season. The unbeaten run might be over soon! 

 
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30 minutes left

Only 30 minutes before the end of the final and Atalanta are still two goals ahead. Xabi Alonso's team are pushing to score but still didn't have big chances. Atalanta replaced Charles De Ketelaere with Mario Pasalic as well. 

 
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The second half is here!

The second half of the final started and Bayer Leverkusen make one change as Victor Boniface comes in while Atalanta also replace Sead Kolasinac (injured) for Giorgio Scalvini. 

 
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HT: Atalanta 2, Bayer 0 

After an incredible first half, the Italian team are two goals ahead thanks to a brace scored by Lookman. But Bayer Leverkusen already taught us that they will be in the game until the last second of the final... 

 
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Atalanta, what a start

The Italian team had an incredible and strong first half as they scored two goals. Gasperini's side deserve to be ahead while Leverkusen are barely creating chances so far. But the final is not over... 

 
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WATCH: Atalanta's second goal 

 
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GOAAAAAL! Atalanta 2, Bayer Leverkusen 0

Again! Atalanta scored again! And Lookman scored again. An incredible kick from outside the box and the Italians are now two goals ahead with a brace of the striker. Gasperini's team is 60 minutes away from a dream becoming true. 

 
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WATCH: Lookman's goal 

 
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Bad defending from Bayer

Atalanta seem to be playing very well so far while Leverkusen are struggling to keep the ball and create chances. Atalanta's goal was also a big mistake of Bayer's defense, that was not able to be reactive on the ball. 

 
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Atalanta 3, Bayer Leverkusen 0

 
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GOAL - Atalanta 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0

Atalanta are ahead! The Nerazzurri scored the opener with Ademola Lookman who was able to convert a great cross of Davide Zappacosta and arrived first on the ball. Atalanta deserved to score and the fans are going crazy now on the stands! 

 
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Strong start

Good start from Atalanta in these opening minutes of the final, but still no real chances to score. Bayer are trying to defend and play more on counterattacks so far. 

 
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KICK OFF

And here we go: the Europa League final has started! 

 
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The trophy is in the house

 
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An historical final 

This is going to be an historical final as Atalanta are yet to win a major trophy since 1963 and this is also their first ever European final in the club's history. Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen after winning the 2023-24 Bundesliga now have the chance to win their first European cup since 1988. 

 
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The atmosphere in Dublin 

 
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Team news

Atalanta XI: Musso; Djimsiti, Hien, Kolasinac; Zappacosta, Ederson, Koopmeiners, Ruggeri; De Ketelaere, Lookman; Scamacca. 

Bayer Leverkusen XI: Kovar; Tapsoba, Tah, Stanisic; Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Hincapié; Wirtz, Grimaldo; Adli. 

 
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How they got here

Atalanta's road to the final has been an impressive one, starting with a group stage campaign where Gianpiero Gasperini's side won four and drew two, beating Sporting on the road to come out top of a group that included teams that would go on to be champions of Portugal and Austria. Another rematch with Sporting held no fear for Atalanta, Gianluca Scamacca and Ademola Lookman netting in the second half in Bergamo.

Then came one of the games of the season, Scamacca rising to the moment with a brace as strong favorites Liverpool were blown out of the competition with a 3-0 defeat at Anfield, an irretrievable deficit even for Jurgen Klopp. Marseille held firm in the first leg of the semifinals but Atalanta were rampant at home, Lookman striking in the first half before Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Toure guided La Dea to a first European final.

Bayer Leverkusen's flair for the dramatic was in full display in the Europa League knockout stages even if Group H had been rather prosaic: 19 goals for, three against and 18 points from a possible 18. The drama came in the round of 16 where Alonso's men were two goals down in both legs to Qarabag. Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick earned them a draw in Baku but the second leg was altogether more dramatic, the latter scoring in the 93rd and 98th minutes to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win.

The run of late goals was not stopping there; Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface undid West Ham in the first leg before Jeremie Frimpong denied the Irons even the consolation of a second-leg win. As for Roma, the hard work seemed to be done when Daniele De Rossi's men were beaten 2-0 in the Italian capital but two penalties from Leandro Paredes blew the semifinal wide open.

A Gianluca Mancini goal restored Leverkusen's lead on aggregate but that would not be enough for a side chasing a record 49th game unbeaten, a full season without loss in sight. Josip Stanisic struck in the 98th minute and the run went on, as it has all the way to Dublin.

 
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Viewing information

  • Date: Wednesday, May 22 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: Aviva Stadium -- Dublin
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Odds: Atalanta +333; Draw +260; Bayer Leverkusen -125
 
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Hello and welcome!

Welcome from Dublin as Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen meet for the first European final of the season. The two teams face for the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League final!