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Bayer Leverkusen's historic unbeaten run ends with Europa League final loss to Atalanta

Bayer Leverkusen suffered their first defeat of the 2023-24 season with a heavy 3-0 loss to Italian side Atalanta BC in the Europa League 2023-24 final in Dublin. The new German champions enjoyed a historic unbeaten run for 361 days where they remained unbeaten in 51 matches.

Written By: Sumeet Kavthale @sumeetkavthale New Delhi Updated on: May 24, 2024 2:34 IST
Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso
Image Source : GETTY Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso during the Europa League final 2023-24 in Dublin on May 22

Atalanta BC pulled off a dominant 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen to clinch the UEFA Europa League 2023-24 title on Thursday, May 22. The Italian side also ended Bayer Leverkusen's dream unbeaten run across all competitions to end their 61-year-old silverware drought. 

Leverkusen entered the final with 51 unbeaten matches on their back and as favourites to bag their second European competition title. But Xabi Alonso's men were stunned by the former Everton forward Ademola Lookman who recorded a brilliant hat-trick at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

Lookman scored two first-half goals and then celebrated his hat-trick with his third goal in the second half. The English forward became the only sixth player to score a hat-trick in the major UEFA finals and the first in the last 50 years.

Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini led his team to their first-ever major trophy after an impressive campaign in Serie A where they target a Champions League berth next season. Gasperini, 66, became the oldest coach to win the UEFA Europa League.

After the defeat, Xabi Alonso said that the first defeat of the season coming in the final hurt his team but added that his side did exceptionally well.

"It wasn't lost in terms of attitude, it was a football thing," Alonso said. "It happens, it's football, today wasn't meant to be. They were better. It's our first defeat of the season so it will be a test as to how we deal with it because we have a big game on Saturday. Normally it [first defeat] happens earlier in the season, but when it happens in such a big game, it hurts. But we have to use this pain in a positive way -- it's football, the normality is not to lose the first game in the 52nd game. It's exceptional what we have done. Today is painful, but it is deserved as well."

Meanwhile, Leverkusen, who clinched the Bundesliga title with a memorable unbeaten season, will be facing FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup 2024 final on Saturday, May 25. 

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