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22.05.2024Europa League

3-0 defeat - Werkself downed by Atalanta in the Europa League final

The Werkself have lost 3-0 to Atalanta in the UEFA Europa League final. There was no way through for Bayer 04 against a very vigilant Italian defence. Ademola Lookman scored the goals for the Bergamo side in the 12th, 26th and 75th minutes. It was the first defeat for the Black & Reds this season following a run of 51 unbeaten competitive matches.
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Compared to the 2-1 home win against FC Augsburg on the last day of the Bundesliga campaign, head coach Xabi Alonso rotated in five positions: Matej Kovar replaced Lukas Hradecky between the posts, Josip Stanisic came in for Odilon Kossounou in defence, and Exequiel Palacios began as a second holding midfielder alongside Granit Xhaka instead of Robert Andrich. Piero Hincapie and Florian Wirtz also started in place of Victor Boniface and Jonas Hofmann. The Werkself began the game aggressively in front of the 12,000 Bayer 04 fans in the sold-out Dublin Arena, but initially kept giving the ball away too easily.

WERKSELF GET INTO THE GAME AFTER FALLING BEHIND

The Black & Reds had their first sight of goal in the 4th minute, but Wirtz just failed to reach a long ball. Meanwhile at the back, Hincapie made a decisive challenge on Atalanta's dangerous striker Gianluca Scamacca (8'). The Werkself went behind in the 12th minute: Davide Zappacosta's low cross from the right found Ademola Lookman at the back post and he slotted home to make it 1-0 for the Italians. Just over ten minutes later, Lookman then curled the ball neatly into the bottom right-hand corner, leaving Kovar with no chance and making it 2-0 to Atalanta (26'). There weren't many chances for the Black & Reds in that period, as Bergamo defended with real focus and closed down counter-attacks and transitions early on. Things did improve for the Werkself towards the end of the first half though. In the 35th minute, for example, Grimaldo was played in by Palacios with a lob in behind the Italian back line. The Spaniard then also attempted to lob keeper Juan Musso as he rushed out, but the Atalanta stopper cleared the ball and the team went into the half-time break 2-0 down.

Granit Xhaka

Alonso brought on Boniface for Stanisic for the second half, while Giorgio Scalvini replaced former Bundesliga player Sead Kolasinac for Atalanta. The Werkself made every effort to close the gap, but repeatedly lacked the final touch. Dangerous attempts for the Black & Reds were rare, although the stats showed 67 per cent possession in favour of Bayer 04 on the hour mark. Atalanta simply defended vigilantly and gave very little away.

NO WAY THROUGH - LOOKMAN WITH A HAT-TRICK

Alonso tried making further changes, with Andrich and Adam Hlozek coming on for Palacios and Grimaldo. But despite the fresh personnel, Leverkusen still failed to score. It was a different story at the other end: following a counter-attack, Scamacca passed to Lookman on the left and he fired a powerful shot into the top right-hand corner - a hat-trick for Lookman and 3-0 for Atalanta (75'). Not much more happened until the final whistle, but shortly before the end of the game, there was one controversial incident in the penalty area when Hlozek was brought down. However, no penalty was awarded even after the VAR intervened. The game ended a little later in a 3-0 loss from the Black and Reds' point of view. Bayer 04 thus lost the final of the UEFA Europa League and suffered their first defeat of the season after 51 unbeaten competitive matches.

Bayer 04 fans in the Dublin Arena

LOOKING AHEAD: THE SECOND FINAL AROUND THE CORNER

Next stop: Berlin. In three days' time, the Werkself move on to their second final and last competitive match of the season. On Saturday, 25 May (kick-off: 20:00 CEST), Bayer 04 take on 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the DFB Pokal final. The match will be played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

The stats: 

Atalanta: Musso - Djimsiti, Hien, Kolasinac (46' Scalvini) - Zappacosta (84' Hateboer), Ederson, Koopmeiners, Ruggeri (90'+1 Toloi) - de Ketelaere (57' Pasalic), Scamacca (84' Toure), Lookman

Bayer 04: Kovar - Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba - Frimpong (81' Tella), Xhaka, Palacios (69' Andrich), Hincapie - Wirtz (81' Schick), Grimaldo (69' Hlozek) - Adli

Goals: 1-0 Lookman (12'), 2-0 Lookman (26'), 3-0 Lookman (75')

Yellow cards: Djimsiti, Scamacca, Zappacosta, Koopmeiners - Wirtz, Tapsoba, Andrich

Referee: István Kovács (Romania)

Spectators: 46,500 (sold out) at the Dublin Arena

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