Three Nigerians to meet in Europa League final after Atalanta & Leverkusen victories

Three Nigerians to meet in Europa League final after Atalanta & Leverkusen victories

Super Eagles forwards Victor Boniface, Nathan Tella, and Ademola Lookman will all be playing against each other in the final of the UEFA Europa League after Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta won their respective semifinals on Thursday.

Newly-crowned German champions, Leverkusen, came back from two goals down to seal a hard-fought 2-2 draw against AS Roma at BayArena, and progress to the competition’s final with a 4-2 aggregate score.

Although Boniface and Tella were unused substitutes, Leverkusen made history as they qualified for their first major European final since the 2002 Champions League final when they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid.

Leandro Paredes put Roma up with two penalties in the 43rd and 66th minutes, but an own goal from Gianluca Mancini and a 97th-minute winner from Josip Stanisic helped the Germans to avoid defeat in front of their home fans.

Xabi Alonso’s men also extended their unbeaten run to 49 games in all competitions, as they set a new European record for the longest run without defeat by a top-flight team since the commencement of European competitions, surpassing the former record held by Portuguese giants Benfica (48)

They also tied Liverpool for the most goals scored in the 90th minute or later with their 17th such goal of the season.

Elsewhere, Italian side Atalanta rode on the back of a man-of-the-match worthy performance from Lookman to beat Marseille 3-0 and advance 4-1 on aggregate to reach the first-ever European final in club history.

The Nigerian international opened the scoring in the 30th minute with a beautiful finish on the half hour mark. He then provided the assist for their second goal for Matteo Ruggeri, who struck a sublime finish into the top corner.

Malian forward El Bilal Toure got Atalanta’s third in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, to put the icing on the cake for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, who will be playing in their second final this season having also progressed to the Coppa Italia final.

Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta will lock horns in the Europa league final on Wednesday, May 22, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

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