Europa League Final: Lookman Makes History As First African Player With Hat-Trick

  • In the final of any UEFA competition
  • As Atalanta humble unbeaten Leverkusen 3-0

BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Nigerian international and Atalanta winger, Ademola Lookman, made history by becoming the first African footballer to score more than two goals in the final of a major UEFA competition.

In netting a hat-trick in the Europa League final to end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run, Lookman also became the third Nigerian player to score in the final of a major UEFA competition, after Alex Iwobi (2019 Europa League) and Joe Aribo (2022 Europa League).

Lookman grabbed his brace within the opening 26 minutes of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen with the third goal coming in the second half to end Coach Xabi Alonso’s dreams of having an unbeaten treble in the 2023-24 season

The Super Eagles player opened the scoring in the 10th minute, reacting quickest in the box to Zappacosta’s low cross while his second goal was a sublime curling effort into the bottom corner.

Aside from being the first-ever African player to score a hat-trick in a European final, the Nigerian is only the second player after Jupp Heynckes in 1975 to score three times in a Europa League/UEFA Cup final.

Coach Gasperini

Interestingly, it also turned out a night to remember for Atalanta’s 66-year-old manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, who won his first-ever trophy after serving as a coach for more than two decades. As a professional football manager and former player, he has been Atalanta’s manager in the Serie A since his appointment on 14 June 2016.

It is on record that under Gasperini’s tutelage, Atalanta finished the 2020/2021 season by scoring a record-breaking 98 goals in Serie A, the most goals by any Italian club in a single league season in over 60 years

For Leverkusen, popularly called Werkself in the German Bundesliga, though their incredible unbeaten run this season came to an end disastrously, they will seek redemption aiming to end their season with a second trophy on Saturday against FC Kaiserslautern (FCK) in the DFB-Pokal final.

The DFB-Pokal Final has been held at the Olympiastadion Berlin since 1985 and kick-off for this year’s final is 8 pm. – With agency report

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