• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Lookman’s goal fires Atalanta into Europa League final 


Super Eagles winger Ademola Lookman scored as Atalanta booked their spot in the UEFA Europa League final with a 4-1 aggregate win over Marseille in the second leg of their semi-final showdown on Thursday at the Gewiss Stadium.

The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in France but Atalanta proved too strong for their opponents on home soil, recording a 3-0 win on the night.

The Nigeria international and former Everton star scored on the half-hour mark when his deflected strike drifted beyond visiting keeper Pau Lopez into the bottom corner.

Matteo Ruggeri gave Atalanta a two-goal cushion at the start of the second half as he powered a right-foot drive into the top corner.
Substitute El Bilal Toure added gloss to the success, scoring with the last kick of the game in injury time.

After reaching their first final in European competition, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will take on Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on May 22.

Atalanta, who knocked out Liverpool in the previous round, spurned numerous chances to put the tie beyond Jean-Louis Gasset’s men in the first half.

Marseille were also given a chance to level the tie early in the second half, but former Sheffield United forward Iliman Ndiaye failed to hit the target with his lobbed effort over Juan Musso.

Atalanta, though, continued with their attacking approach and Ruggeri’s brilliant strike in the 52nd minute settled home nerves in Bergamo.
Jordan Veretout struck the bar with a free-kick from 40 yards as Marseille tried to get back into the game, which had finished 1-1 in the first leg in France.

But Atalanta claimed a third goal in the fourth minute of added time when Mali striker Toure fired a fine finish across Lopez.

Atalanta will search for their first European trophy in Dublin on May 22, with Bayer Leverkusen, who remain unbeaten this season.

The Coppa Italia finalists had 13 shots – four of which were on target – to Marseille’s two in the opening half of action, which told the story of the first 45 minutes at Stadio di Bergamo, and they also dominated the second period on home soil.