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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the Aviva Stadium

The Dublin final that was supposed to pit the Hammers against a departing Klopp is hijacked by Charlton kid


Europa League Final

Atalanta 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen


Those of us who once witnessed one of the most feeble penalty misses of all time will not believe what they saw on this historic Dublin evening.


It was an attempted Panenka for Fulham against West Ham at the London Stadium and was so bad, you just had your feel sorry for the taker.


He got caught in two minds maybe, as he sent a gentle mishit shot straight into the keeper's arms.


Tonight there was nothing remotely indecisive about him. Step forward Ademola Lookman. Hat-trick hero with three stunning finishes. The 26-year-old simply had the game of his life.


And who could gave foreseen this? The unfashionable Italian outfit from Bergamo without a trophy in 61 years against a Leverkusen side unbeaten through the entire season of 51 matches.


They can build special players at the Valley.


Wansworth-born Lookman spent two formative years at Charlton before moving on to Everton and RB Leipzig. That loan spell at Fulham was underwhelming...but that always seemed surprising given the undoubted talent.


Perhaps it had just all been building up to this.


Only the sixth player to hit a treble in a maj


He tore in front of a defender to fire into the roof of the net for the opener, then bamboozled former Arsenal man Granit Xhaka to cut inside snd unleash an unerring low shot into the net. After the break, another sidestep and a beautiful despatch into the top corner. Memorable.


It was so deserved this Atalanta triumph against Xabi Alonso's amazing side. A seemingly strange rag-tag of an outfit but they took the breath away. Among them former Chelsea players Davide Zappacosta and Mario Pasalic. West Ham misfit Gianluca Scamacca and ex Arsenal left back Sead Kolasinac. Not an obviously brilliant mix.


Credit for that must go to the wily Gian Piero Gasperini, who also masterminded a great quarter final victory over Liverpool.


In the end, the Lookman and Atalanta stories blew all others away. Liverpool and West Ham forgotten footnotes in the Europa League story.


Quite a few Reds fans had bought up tickets for the final in anticipation of seeing their team have one last shot at silverware under Jurgen Klopp.


But a fair few Londoners were around too - having taken a punt on tickets in the hope of seeing a repeat of last years' Prague spring glory against Fiorentina in the Europa Conference final. It could so easily have been another shot at glory for David Moyes.


As it was, the Reds crumbled horribly against Atalanta in the quarter-finals. The Hammers gave it their all against Germany's new Bundesliga champions but fell by the wayside.


Hammers fans watching this one at home, if not among those here for the final, will no doubt have experienced a twinge of envy - and nostalgia about last year's magnificent days out in the Czech republic.


They came very close to a shut out in the first leg in Germany but succumbed to two late goals and it was too much of a handicap to make up for in the second leg, even thought they briefly raised a storm and threatened to upset the odds.


They must have thought then that their conquerors would go on to lift the trophy. Lookman had other ideas as the high press and tireless running of Atalanta snuffed out Leverkusen from start to finish.


Moyes has gone and that is probably the best for all concerned given the general dissatisfaction with style of play at the London Stadium. But he has left the legacy of a fanbase thirsting for more adventure on the continent.


This year was a blast and it has been three fun years in competitions in which they showed they could compete and harbour realistic ambitions of success.


Tonight, from afar, they got a reminder of how it all feels.

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