Gian Piero Gasperini hails Atalanta’s Europa League win as a "footballing fairytale" after beating Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the final on Wednesday.

Ademola Lookman scored a hat-trick to secure Atalanta’s first-ever major European trophy, and just a second in their history - after the Coppa Italia in 1963.

The Bergamo side also became the first Italian team to win the Europa League since its rebrand in 2009, with Parma in 1999 the last Serie A side to win the UEFA Cup.

Atalanta’s victory also ended a 51-game unbeaten run for Leverkusen in all competitions, topping an already dazzling Europa League.

Gasperini, who is now the oldest coach to win his debut major European final, praised his side for their historic win.

"Hugely proud for all of Italy, because it was a cursed trophy, even if it was only Inter and Roma who made the final over the last 25 years and lost," Gasperini told reporters.

"Having won it with Atalanta is perhaps one of those footballing fairytales that very rarely happens, and it does show there's still room for meritocracy in football.

"There's still room for ideas, and it doesn't only come down to numbers and the super league [clubs].

"We produced a wonderful performance, and we needed to do that against such a top side [in Bayer Leverkusen]. We scored three splendid goals."

Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

"Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

"It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

"We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

Xabi Alonso will not allow Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League final defeat against Atalanta to alter his pride, after their historic 51-game unbeaten run ended on Wednesday.

The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

"For me the result today does not change one bit how I feel about my players or what we have been doing," the Leverkusen head coach told TNT Sports.

"It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

"This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

"I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

"To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great. To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and then going for the Pokal too means a lot.

"First year as a coach, it is going quite well!"

A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

"It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

"They are a special team. Normally we get in better positions ourselves but today we could not.

"We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be.

"The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say."

Ademola Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo after his hat-trick inspired Atalanta to Europa League glory, ending Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run after a 3-0 defeat in Dublin.

Nigeria winger Lookman is just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup.

His single-handed match-winning heroics secured Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

The records continued to tumble for Lookman, whose hat-trick was the sixth in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

Having no response to a performance for the ages, Leverkusen suffered their first defeat since their final game of the 2022-23 season, ending a 361-day unbeaten run from last losing 3-0 to Bochum.

Gian Piero Gasperini's masterclass will etch his name into Atalanta history, with the Italian – aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday – the fourth oldest manager to win a major European trophy.

Only Raymond Goethals (71y 231d, 1993 Champions League), Heynckes (68y 16d, 2013 Champions League) and Alex Ferguson (66y 142d, 2008 Champions League), have done so at an older age.

Owing to Gasperini's genius and Lookman's quality, Atalanta are the first Italian side to lift the Europa League trophy since its rebrand in 2009, with Parma in 1999 the last Serie A side to win the UEFA Cup.

Alonso will hope to bounce back in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final but the Bundesliga champions are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

Ademola Lookman produced a performance for the ages as his hat-trick ended Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten streak and saw Atalanta claim the Europa League with a 3-0 win in Dublin.

Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga title champions were eyeing an unlikely treble this season, but those plans came to a crashing halt as Atalanta secured their first-ever European silverware.

Lookman did the early damage with his first-half brace, the second of which was an eye-catching solo strike, as Gian Piero Gasperini's Serie A side seized unexpected control on Wednesday.

Comeback masters Leverkusen may have fancied a late fightback but Lookman's thumping 75th-minute finish completed his hat-trick and ensured Alonso's team suffered defeat for the first time this season, in what was their penultimate match of an exceptional campaign.

Leverkusen were punished for a slow start as Atalanta, making their maiden appearance in a European final, capitalised with just 12 minutes gone at the Aviva Stadium.

Exequiel Palacios was caught unaware at the back post as Davide Zappacosta slammed a low right-sided cross for Lookman to fire into the top-left corner from close range.

Lookman doubled his tally 14 minutes later, coolly flicking through the legs of Granit Xhaka before curling a right-footed finish into the bottom-right corner from the cusp of Leverkusen's area.

Alex Grimaldo should have responded shortly after but aimed a timid lob straight at the onrushing Juan Musso, who gratefully grasped the chipped effort when way out of his goal.

Charles De Ketelaere fizzed into the hands of Matej Kovar, while Granit Xhaka whipped wide before Alonso introduced striker Victor Boniface at the break.

That alteration failed to change the tide as Jeremie Frimpong blazed over the only chance before the hour-mark – and there would be no way back after Lookman scored his third with 15 minutes remaining.

Gianluca Scamacca played a simple offload out to his left, with Lookman breezing past Edmond Tapsoba before cannoning a wonderful left-footed strike beyond Kovar to seal a famous night for the team from Bergamo.

Atalanta savour legend Lookman

Lookman has etched his name into Atalanta history after helping Gasperini's side become the first Italian side to win the Europa League.

The Nigeria international is the sixth player to score a hat-trick in the final of a major UEFA competition, and the first since Jupp Heynckes' for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

Lookman's match-winning heroics will live long in the memory of Atalanta supporters, who will cherish just their second major trophy in club history – 61 years after winning the Coppa Italia.

Neverlusen comes to an end

Prior to this stunning defeat, Leverkusen were undefeated in all 12 Europa League games this season (W9 D3) and aiming to become the fourth side to win the trophy unbeaten, along with Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22.

Adding in their nine-month unbeaten run, which spanned back to a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August, Alonso's side appeared the favourites for this clash.

Yet form went out the window as Atalanta – who also eliminated Liverpool in the quarter-finals – inflicted Leverkusen's first defeat across all competitions in 361 days, and Alonso must now rally his troops for the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday.

Atalanta captain Marten de Roon believes they have what it takes to end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten season in the Europa League final.

De Roon will not be available for La Dea in Dublin on Wednesday due to injury but has joined up with the squad to offer his support.

Atalanta have had a memorable campaign, reaching their first European final and qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, claimed their first-ever Bundesliga title without losing a single game and are aiming to complete a treble.

Despite coming up against a tough opponent, De Roon is confident that his side will be able to end their 61-year drought without a major trophy.

"Every team is beatable. At the moment, [Leverkusen] seem unbeatable, but maybe we are the ones who can change that," he said in the pre-match press conference.

"We have to believe in our philosophy, play attacking football and try to beat them. You don't win a trophy if you don't beat the best.

"We have had a great campaign, and we fully deserve to be here. Both sides deserve to be playing this final. Let's see who will manage to lift the trophy.

Atalanta narrowly missed out in the Coppa Italia final to Juventus earlier this month, and Gian Piero Gasperini is now preparing to manage his first-ever European final.

The Italian praised Leverkusen but stressed the belief he has in his own team after an impressive campaign.

He said: "We are aware that we are facing a great team. We know that they are undefeated, and we know that they have had an amazing season.

"Our journey, however, was also very good as we beat very strong teams to reach the final, and we also have belief.

"Leverkusen are a complete team; extremely organised. They are versatile, they can defend and recover the ball well.

"The results they have achieved this season are not an accident. Certainly, small details can make the difference in a final. We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing."

Xabi Alonso says Bayer Leverkusen are driven by self-confidence in their ability to win games ahead of the Europa League final.

Leverkusen are chasing the second trophy in a potential treble against Atalanta in Dublin on Wednesday, with the DFB-Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to follow on Saturday.

The Bundesliga champions became the first German team to go unbeaten on their way to the title and are currently on a 51-match run without defeat in all competitions.

Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager, but he believes his team will draw on the experience they have already gained this season.

"Our self-confidence keeps driving us on. We know that we can produce goals until the final minute," he said in his pre-match press conference. "That's a huge development that the team has made this season.

"From the start of the campaign, we believed in our brand of football and that's right at the heart of this successful run.

"We'll prepare like we did for all the games before. We haven't lost in 51 games, so my boys know how to adapt to different situations. That also applies to the final.

"What matters above all tomorrow is mentality. We have a game plan, but the players still have that wonderful atmosphere from the title celebrations on Saturday, and we want to tap into that."

Alonso is the youngest coach to manage a men’s European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea’s Champions League victory in 2012.

He will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage a major European final this century after also playing in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals with Liverpool.

Reflecting on his time at Leverkusen, Alonso said: "I was so young in this coach career, so when I was offered the Leverkusen job, so it was 'let's go, let's see what happens'.

"In one year and a half, so much has happened; it has been a great experience, and it has only been a year and a half, but we have made so many right decisions.

"I think we have great chemistry.  The mentality we have shown throughout the year has been fantastic. I am really enjoying it."

Xabi Alonso is hopeful that his Bayer Leverkusen side can make more history in their Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday.

Leverkusen became the first side in Bundesliga history to go unbeaten in a single season on their way to the top-flight title, and across all competitions, they have not lost any of their last 51 matches.

Now, they have the opportunity to complete an unbeaten treble if they can get past Atalanta before taking on Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal on Saturday.

Only three sides have previously won the competition without losing a game – Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22, with Leverkusen looking to be added to that list.

Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager and highlights the ambition the club have to do something significant.

"It would mean a lot, a lot to me [to win a European trophy]," he told UEFA. "To be able to share it with the people from the club, with the fans.

"You see what it meant when we won the Bundesliga. To be able to win a European title after so many years since we won [the UEFA Cup in 1988] would be historic, and we want to do that, to have a historic season.

"It would be something written in golden letters, not only in the history of our club but probably all European football. I hope we can."

Like his counterpart, Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini is also taking charge of a European final for the first time in his career.

The Italian side clinched a top-five finish in Serie A with their win over Lecce on Saturday and are looking to win their first major trophy in 61 years.

Looking back on the season, Gasperini says he is proud of the work his side have done to make it through to the club's first European final.

"It feels good," Gasperini said. "It's a great achievement and source of satisfaction, achieved with a really good season from this whole team.

"Is it the highest point of my career? Yes, in terms of accomplishment and prestige, absolutely. In terms of gratification, fortunately, I've had quite a few, although perhaps not on the same level.

"This team always wanted it. Sometimes, you get teams who are good technically but lacking in determination and hunger.

"From the start, from the group stage, since we played in Lisbon, in a group where we were not the favourites – Sporting [CP] were the favourites – we played great matches against strong opponents. Of course, winning at Anfield boosted our confidence even more."

Back in 2001-02, Bayer Leverkusen earned the unwanted moniker of 'Neverkusen' as they saw a potential treble unravel in the space of 11 traumatic days, finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal.

Twenty-two years later, Xabi Alonso's Werkself have already gone some way to banishing those ghosts by making Bundesliga history, Saturday's 2-1 win over Augsburg completing their unbeaten title-winning campaign.

This week, they have a chance to make it an unbeaten treble, heading to Dublin for Wednesday's Europa League final before taking on Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal on Saturday. 

Looking to deny Bayer one of the greatest achievements in recent memory are Atalanta, participating in their first European final following a memorable run that included a stunning quarter-final elimination of Liverpool.

Ahead of the first of 2023-24's European finals, here's the key storylines and Opta facts surrounding the two contenders.  

One down, two to go

Wednesday's game offers Bayer the chance to complete the second leg of an unbeaten treble. 

On Saturday, they became the first team in Bundesliga history to enjoy an unbeaten season, while only Arsenal (in 2003-04) and Juventus (2011-12) had previously achieved the feat in Europe's top five leagues this century. 

Leverkusen are still unbeaten in 51 games in all competitions this season (42 wins, nine draws), with 12 of those coming in the Europa League (nine wins, three draws). 

Three sides have previously won the competition without losing a game, with each of those triumphs coming within the last five editions – Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22.  

Wednesday's match will be the third major European final in Leverkusen's history, with Bayer beating Espanyol in a two-legged UEFA Cup final in 1988 and losing 2-1 to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Real Madrid in the 2002 Champions League showpiece. 

Alonso has taken Germany and Europe by storm with his brand of progressive, possession-based football, and Bayer's total of 6,622 successful passes in the Europa League this season is the most by any team in a single edition since 2019-20 victors Sevilla recorded 6,971. 

Their passing accuracy of 89.5 per cent is the second highest on record (behind Nice in 2017-18, 90 per cent), while their 94.3 per cent success rate with short passes is the best ever recorded in a Europa League campaign.

But even when Leverkusen have been less than free-flowing, they have found ways to avoid defeat.

They squandered a 2-0 first-leg lead in the second leg of their semi-final tie against Roma, only to fight back for a 2-2 draw which saw them progress 4-2 on aggregate. Josip Stanisic scored a 97th-minute equaliser in that game, the sixth goal Bayer have scored in the 90th minute or later in the Europa League this term.

That is the most ever managed by a team in a single major European campaign, and they also rescued their unbeaten Bundesliga record with last-gasp strikes against Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart last month.

If Leverkusen find themselves with their backs against the wall on Wednesday, viewers would be wise not to rule them out.

Can the nearly men get over the line?  

Leverkusen's Bundesliga triumph has allowed them to shake off their "nearly men" tag, but Atalanta are hoping it's a case of fourth time lucky for them in major finals under Gian Piero Gasperini.

La Dea, whose only major trophy win came in the Coppa Italia in 1962-63, were beaten 1-0 by Juventus in the Coppa Italia final last week – their third loss in that competition's showpiece game under Gasperini.

However, they bounced back with a 2-0 Serie A win over Lecce on Saturday, Gianluca Scamacca and Charles De Ketelaere scoring as they secured a top-five finish and Champions League qualification for 2024-25.

A return to Europe's premier club competition is just reward for a fine campaign for the Bergamo club, who will finish a Serie A season with more than 65 points (currently 66) for the fifth time (with all seasons adjusted for three points per win).

The four previous instances – in 2016-17 (72), 2018-19 (69), 2019-20 (78) and 2020-21 (78) – also all came under Gasperini. 

While their free-flowing attacking play has returned this campaign, La Dea have also been excellent without the ball, facing just 2.8 shots on target per Europa League game on average. That is the lowest rate of any team in the 2023-24 competition, with opponents Bayer facing 4.1 per match.

Their backline can expect to be tested on Wednesday, though, with Bayer's total of 232 shots in the Europa League this season the most by any team in a single edition since Chelsea tallied 247 in 2018-19.

The coaches

Fans can expect an intriguing tactical battle between two progressive coaches at the Aviva Stadium.

Gasperini has overseen the most successful period in Atalanta's history since taking charge in 2016, though this will be his first European final as a manager. 

At the age of 66 years and 117 days, he will become the oldest coach to take charge of his first major European final, and the oldest overall since Jupp Heynckes led Bayern Munich to glory in the 2013 Champions League final (68 years, 16 days).

His counterpart Alonso – at the age of 42 years and 179 days – will be the youngest coach to manage a men's European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea's memorable victory in the 2012 Champions League final at the age of 41 years and 356 days, beating Heynckes' Bayern.

Having played for Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, Alonso will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage in a major European final this century.

Zidane played for Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final then managed them in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions. Antonio Conte played for Juventus in the 2003 Champions League showpiece and coached Inter for the 2020 Europa League final, while Giovanni van Bronckhorst achieved the feat as a Barcelona player (2006 Champions League) and Rangers boss (2022 Europa League).

Players to watch

The likes of Alejandro Grimaldo, Victor Boniface, Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich have played crucial roles for Bayer this season, but their key man is undoubtedly Florian Wirtz, who was named Bundesliga Player of the Year on Monday.

Wirtz scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout Bayer's triumphant Bundesliga campaign, also recording eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) in the Europa League this term – the most of any Leverkusen player.

Meanwhile, his total of 28 open-play chances created in the 2023-24 competition has only previously been bettered by five players in a single edition, most recently Amin Younes for Ajax in 2016-17 (30).

For Atalanta, all eyes will be on Scamacca, who scored outstanding goals against Liverpool and Marseille in the last two rounds.

The former West Ham striker has six goals in the Europa League this season, a tally only previously bettered by two Italian players in a single edition. Giuseppe Rossi netted 10 times for Villarreal in the 2010-11 tournament, while Ciro Immobile scored eight for Lazio in 2017-18.

Prediction 

Leverkusen enter Wednesday's game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer rating their chances of victory within 90 minutes at 50.2 per cent.

Atalanta, however, should not be ruled out, having won seven of their nine matches since losing 1-0 in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Liverpool (one draw, one defeat).

They are assigned a 24.4 per cent chance of victory, with 25.4 per cent of the supercomputer's match simulations finishing level, which would mean extra time and potentially penalties. 

An early strike from Dusan Vlahovic earned Juventus a 1-0 win over Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday, as Massimiliano Allegri's side lifted their first trophy for three years.

Vlahovic put Juventus in front in the fourth minute when he latched onto a pass from Andrea Cambiaso and broke into the box, before driving his finish past goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi.

The Serbia striker thought he had doubled Juve's lead in the 72nd minute when he nodded home from Cambiaso's cross, but that effort was disallowed for offside.

The Bianconeri had just 34 per cent of the possession and sat back for long periods, but Atalanta were unable to make their dominance of the ball count, failing to record a single shot on target from 13 attempts.

They will hope to fare better when they face Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final later this month, having now lost three Coppa Italia finals under Gian Piero Gasperini.

Data Debrief: Juventus on top once more

The Coppa Italia is Juventus' competition. They hold the record for most finals played (22) and won (15), and have now lifted the trophy in six of the last 10 years.

Allegri, meanwhile, has now won the Coppa on five separate occasions, surpassing Sven-Goran Eriksson and Roberto Mancini to become the competition's most successful coach outright.

Bayer Leverkusen will find it tough to overcome Atalanta in the Europa League final, manager Xabi Alonso said. 

The Italian side knocked out Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and three-times finalists Marseille in previous rounds.

But Leverkusen have plans of their own as they chase a treble of titles, having recently been crowned as the new Bundesliga champions.

Currently on an extraordinary 50-match run this season, Leverkusen play Gian Piero Gasperini's side, who are fifth in Serie A, in Dublin on May 22.

"Atalanta is one of the best teams in Europe. The coach has a clear plan, they have a great mentality and a big squad," Alonso told reporters on Wednesday.

"If we do our best, we have a chance, but it will be tight. They are a top team."

With the league title in the bag, Leverkusen are fully focused on winning both their finals, which includes the German Cup clash against Kaiserslautern on May 25.

But before that, they have a home game against Augsburg in the league on Saturday.

"The feeling is very good, we're looking forward to playing two finals. It's a great opportunity for us. We have time to prepare. There's still the Bundesliga game, but of course we're already focussing on the two finals," the Spaniard said.

"With the Bundesliga decided, we can focus more on the Europa League than if there was still something at stake. But the Bundesliga is not over yet, and we respect Augsburg."

Midfielder Florian Wirtz, who has scored 18 goals for Leverkusen in all competitions this campaign, is better after missing the last two games through injury.

"We'll take it slowly and look day by day. There's no risk of a more serious injury, it's all about the pain. We'll see how it looks again tomorrow," Alonso added.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said questions regarding his future will be resolved in the next couple of weeks after the Bianconeri's slump continued with Sunday's 1-1 draw with Salernitana.

Juve looked set for a humiliating Serie A loss at home to Stefano Colantuono's already-relegated side, only for Adrien Rabiot to equalise in stoppage time.

It was a fifth straight league draw for Allegri's side, who have slipped to fourth in Serie A, seven points behind second-placed Milan and level with Bologna in third.

Juve were neck-and-neck with recently crowned Scudetto winners Inter at the turn of the year, and their dismal end to the season has seen Allegri's position called into question.

Asked about his future on Sunday, Allegri said: "Just be patient a little bit longer, in 10 to 15 days you'll know what will happen next year. 

"Anyone who has played football knows that even the great teams can experience a moment of difficulty when the games become tough. We will certainly have to grow."

Wednesday's Coppa Italia final against in-form Atalanta presents an opportunity for redemption.

"The final against a team like Atalanta that has grown a lot will certainly be balanced," Allegri said. "It's a one-off game and we will have to try to make as few mistakes as possible.

Regarding Sunday's match, the 56-year-old said the performance was not satisfactory but stressed the importance of avoiding defeat.

"We started reasonably well, then made a mistake in our decision-making. We became disjointed and we didn't hold our positions," he said.

"You can't lose a match like that, otherwise you risk never picking yourselves back up again."

Atalanta do not consider themselves favourites for Wednesday's Coppa Italia final against Juventus despite their strong form, says coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

Atalanta have enjoyed a fantastic season, reaching the Europa League final – where they will face unbeaten Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen on May 22 – and the Coppa Italia showpiece. 

La Dea are also in the driving seat to secure Italy's fifth Champions League place for next season, after Sunday's 2-1 home win over Roma took them three points clear of the Giallorossi with a game in hand.

On Wednesday, an out-of-form Juve side await Atalanta at the Stadio Olimpico, as Gasperini seeks his first trophy with the club he joined back in 2016.

"I think it's a bit much to suggest we'd be favourites against Juve. We are in good form, but it's difficult to tell playing every three days," Gasperini told DAZN on Sunday.

"Naturally, we go into this Coppa Italia final with great enthusiasm."

Atalanta's Milan loanee Charles De Ketelaere produced another fine performance against Roma, scoring twice inside 20 minutes.

With 13 goals and nine assists, he is one of three Atalanta players to record 22 goal involvements in all competitions this season, alongside Gianluca Scamacca (17 goals, five assists) and Teun Koopmeiners (15 goals, seven assists). 

Manchester City and Leverkusen (four apiece) are the only teams in Europe's top five leagues with more players with at least 22 direct goal involvements. 

"Everyone knew he could play, or Milan would not have made an investment like that. He deserves the credit, he was going all over the place, right, left and centre tonight," Gasperini said of De Ketelaere.

Lorenzo Pellegrini reduced the deficit for the visitors with a penalty after 66 minutes, but overall Atalanta were dominant.

While Gasperini was happy with the win, he did not enjoy the wastefulness of his side.

"I don't know if we've learned a lesson, other than we had so many scoring opportunities and did not aim properly, otherwise we would have killed it off a lot earlier," he said.

"Failing to win this match really would have caused us a lot of problems."

Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League final and stretched their remarkable unbeaten run to 49 games on Thursday, Josip Stanisic scoring seven minutes into stoppage time in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Roma.

Having won last week's first leg 2-0 in Italy, Leverkusen were strong favourites to advance to this month's final in Dublin, though two Leandro Paredes penalties left them facing up to the prospect of extra time.

Paredes halved Leverkusen's aggregate lead on the stroke of half-time after Jonathan Tah fouled Sardar Azmoun, then repeated the trick following a bizarre handball from Adam Hlozek shortly after the hour mark.

However, Roma's hearts were broken as goalkeeper Mile Svilar – who was otherwise outstanding – failed to claim a routine corner and it bounced in off the unfortunate Gianluca Mancini with eight minutes of the 90 remaining. 

Rather than sitting back at 2-1 up in the tie, Leverkusen chased a leveller in order to preserve their unbeaten record across all competitions this season.

It was yet another last-gasp effort that kept that record intact, with Stanisic firing into the bottom-left corner after being played through by Granit Xhaka.

Xabi Alonso's team are now unbeaten in 49 games in all competitions, breaking Benfica's previous European top-tier record of 48 matches, set between 1963 and 1965.

Leverkusen will face another Italian side in the showpiece game, after Atalanta crushed Marseille 3-0 in Bergamo to seal a 4-1 aggregate win in the other semi-final.

In-form striker Gianluca Scamacca had already rattled the crossbar when La Dea took the lead, with Ademola Lookman's strike deflecting in off the unfortunate Samuel Gigot. 

Lookman then turned provider as Atalanta stretched their advantage seven minutes after the break, teeing up Matteo Ruggeri for a rasping finish into the top-right corner.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men were able to add some gloss to the scoreline at the death, with El Bilal Toure's pinpoint finish giving Pau Lopez no chance to round off a dominant win. 

Bayer Leverkusen put one foot in the Europa League final as Florian Wirtz and Robert Andrich scored in Thursday's 2-0 semi-final first-leg win over Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma were masters of their own downfall as Wirtz opened the scoring after 28 minutes, Rick Karsdorp's horrible error allowing Alex Grimaldo to race into the area and tee up Wirtz to finish into an unguarded net.

Though Daniele De Rossi's hosts improved after the break, Andrich added a spectacular second with 73 minutes on the clock, the midfielder giving Mile Svilar no chance as he side-footed into the top-left corner from 25 yards out.

Roma should have pulled one back four minutes into stoppage time, but Tammy Abraham could only nod over from inside the six-yard box after a goalmouth scramble, and they now have it all to do in next week's second leg.

Leverkusen's unbeaten run for 2023-24 stands at 47 games across all competitions (39 wins, eight draws), and they are now overwhelming favourites to stamp their ticket to the final in Dublin.

The other semi-final tie remains in the balance at the halfway stage, with Atalanta being pegged back in a 1-1 draw with Marseille at the Stade Velodrome.

Having scored twice in La Dea's memorable win at Anfield in the last round, Gianluca Scamacca took in Teun Koopmeiners' pass before finishing low across goal 11 minutes in, but Gian Piero Gasperini's team couldn't hold on.

Chancel Mbemba was the unlikely goalscorer for Marseille, stepping out of defence to clip a 25-yard effort against the far post and in after 20 minutes.

Neither side could find a winner from there, meaning it's all to play for ahead of next week's return fixture at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo.  

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