Nigerian forward Ademola Lookman made history by scoring the first-ever hat-trick in a UEFA Europa League final, leading Atalanta to a stunning 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen. This victory marked Atalanta’s first major title since 1963 and ended the Bundesliga champions’ 51-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Atalanta struck first in the 12th minute with a beautifully crafted goal from Lookman, who, unmarked, fired a clinical first-time strike past Matěj Kovář following a delightful link-up play involving Teun Koopmeiners and Davide Zappacosta.

Lookman doubled the tally with a sublime finish, going past Granit Xhaka and nutmegging the former Arsenal star before launching a stunning long-range effort from the edge of the box. This brought his brace within the first 26 minutes of the game.

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Leverkusen nearly pulled one back when Florian Wirtz set up Álex Grimaldo, but the Spaniard shot straight at Juan Musso. Despite their efforts, Leverkusen struggled to find their rhythm in the opening half, while Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactical plan for Atalanta worked flawlessly.

Leverkusen emerged with greater intensity after the break. Jeremie Frimpong fired a warning shot, lashing a left-footed volley over the bar. However, the German side, known for their comebacks, failed to break down Atalanta’s solid defense.

Lookman sealed the win and extinguished Leverkusen’s hopes with a ferocious angled finish from the left-hand side after being set up by Gianluca Scamacca. This goal in the 75th minute made Lookman the first player to score a hat-trick in a single-leg UEFA Europa League final, surpassing Jupp Heynckes’ record from a two-legged final in 1975.

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With this hat-trick, Lookman also became the first African to score a brace in the final of a major European competition, before adding the historic third. This brought his Europa League tally to five goals and his season total to 15 goals and eight assists in all competitions.

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Leverkusen, featuring Nigerians Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, saw their unbeaten streak end at 51 games. Boniface, the team’s highest scorer with 21 goals and 10 assists in 33 appearances, was introduced at the start of the second half but couldn’t turn the tide.

Despite the pressure from Leverkusen in the second half, Lookman’s brilliance ensured Atalanta’s first title since their 1963 Coppa Italia triumph. This victory was especially sweet for Lookman, who had experienced recent disappointments with Nigeria’s AFCON loss to Ivory Coast and Atalanta’s Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus.

The triumph in Dublin capped off Lookman’s season on a high note, positioning him as a strong contender for the Africa Player of The Year Award, a title for which Boniface is also likely to be in contention.