Sports

May 9, 2024

Nigeria’s Lookman scores as history-making Atalanta reach Europa League final

Nigeria’s Lookman scores as history-making Atalanta reach Europa League final

Atalanta’s Nigerian forward #11 Ademola Lookman celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the UEFA Europa league second leg semi-final between Atalanta and Marseille at Bergamo’s stadium on May 9, 2024. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Atalanta reached the Europa League final on Thursday after beating Marseille 3-0 to claim the biggest win in the Italian club’s history.

Goals from Ademola Lookman, academy product Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Toure put Atalanta through to their first ever European final with a 4-1 aggregate win in front of delirious fans in Bergamo.

Atalanta’s passage to the Dublin final, where they will face Bayer Leverkusen, later this month was fully deserved after a dominant performance in which Marseille barely had a kick in yet another poor away display from the Ligue 1 outfit.

Marseille have won just four games on the road in all competitions this season and once Ruggeri put Atalanta two ahead in the 52nd minute Jean-Louis Gasset’s team had no way back, Toure adding the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

“We’ll try to put them in difficulty, but we can’t think about that now, we have to take it one game at a time,” said Ruggeri.

“Let’s hope we can keep going, we’ve just got to enjoy the moment and give it our best shot in the final.”

Atalanta, a traditionally provincial team who have under Gian Piero Gasperini habitually punched above their weight, could now end the season with two trophies as they face Juventus in the Italian Cup on Wednesday.

That is a remarkable achievement for a club whose only major trophy is the 1963 Italian Cup, while the furthest Atalanta had previously gone in European competition was the last four in the 1988 Cup Winners’ Cup when they were a second division team.

Atalanta can also qualify for next season’s revamped Champions League through Serie A as they currently sit in Italy’s fifth and final position for Europe’s top club competition.

They host Roma on Sunday night in a match which could well decide who finishes in the top five.