• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Lookman’s hat-trick sets new UEFA Europa League record

Ademola-Lookman-Europa-League-Atalanta

Nigerian and Atalanta sensational forward Ademola Lookman has written his name in the pages of European football history after scoring a hat-trick in the UEFA Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen.

The 26-year-old who started his football career at Charlton Athletic was the standout player in Wednesday’s match, leading Atalanta to a convincing 3-0 victory and their first major European trophy.

Atalanta entered the UEFA Europa League final in excellent form, with only one loss in their previous nine matches. Despite their recent defeat to Juventus in the Coppa Italia final, which cost them the trophy, they bounced back spectacularly in Dublin.

Atalanta’s victory is a landmark in the club’s 116-year history, marking only their second major trophy, the first being the 1963 Coppa Italia.

Lookman’s performance was historic on multiple fronts. The Super Eagles winger who had an impressive 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast where he scored three goals that helped Nigeria win a Silver medal became the first player to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final since 1975, including its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.

The former Everton star is the first player to score a hat-trick in the single-match format of the Europa League final.

This achievement places him in an elite group of Nigerian players who have scored in major UEFA finals. He also set the record for the fastest two goals in a Europa League final, achieving this in just 26 minutes. His outstanding performance earned him the “Player of the Match” accolade.

Lookman’s hat-trick was instrumental in breaking Bayer Leverkusen’s remarkable 51-match unbeaten streak across all competitions. His contributions throughout the Europa League campaign were pivotal for Atalanta, making him a strong contender for the CAF Player of the Year award, currently held by SSC Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.

They became the first Italian team to win the Europa League since 1999. This win also boosted Italy’s standing in the Europa League, with their 18th final appearance surpassing England and second only to Spain.

Just a week after their Coppa Italia final loss to Juventus, Atalanta’s UEFA Europa League triumph showcased their resilience and determination, making the victory even more memorable.