Atalanta to meet record-breaking Bayer Leverkusen in Europa League final

Atalanta players celebrate after the match. Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

Bergamo (Italy): Atalanta's Ademola Lookman, Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Toure all got on the scoresheet to send the Italians to their first Europa League final with a 3-0 win over Olympique de Marseille for a 4-1 aggregate victory on Thursday.

The Italians will meet Bayer Leverkusen, who overcame AS Roma, in their first European final in Dublin on May 22.

Lookman put Atalanta ahead in the semifinal second leg on the half-hour with a long-range strike past Pao Lopez before setting up Ruggeri to net seven minutes after the break.

Atalanta's repeated attacks, with Gianluca Scamacca and Davide Zappacosta threatening, overwhelmed the visitors, who had few chances, and substitute Toure put the nail in Marseille's coffin with their third four minutes into added time.

"My first goal in Bergamo is a very big emotion," Ruggeri told SkySports Italia. "Now we can dream with our eyes open that we're in the final. It's a moment to celebrate with our people."

Atalanta are aiming for a trophy double as they also face Juventus in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday, with their 1963 Coppa Italia triumph being their only major silverware.

Regarding the Europa League, coach Gian Piero Gasperini told a press conference: "It will be a historic occasion for a team like ours who don't have the numbers (of fans) to win. It's really incredible but it bodes well for everyone.

"Numbers seem to be important, it seems that you have to have Super Leagues, but the example of Atalanta can give hope. Football is beautiful because of meritocracy, not because of acquired rights," he added.

Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen players celebrate after the match. Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Leverkusen staged a remarkable late comeback to move into the final with a 2-2 draw at home to Roma on as they won 4-2 on aggregate and set the longest unbeaten run in all competitions including European matches.

Leverkusen were 2-0 down on the night in the 82nd minute when Roma defender Gianluca Mancini put through his own goal before late substitute Joseph Stanisic pulled the hosts level after Leandro Paredes netted two penalties for the visitors.

Bundesliga champions Leverkusen, who have also reached this month's German Cup final as they chase a treble, played their 49th match without defeat to surpass Benfica's record set from 1963–65 but they had to battle in the semifinal second leg.

Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen have 40 wins in their unbeaten run. It will be a third European final for Leverkusen, who won their only continental title when they lifted the UEFA Cup in 1988 and lost in the 2002 Champions League showpiece.

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