Europa League: Nigerian forwards Lookman, Boniface inch closer to final with Atalanta, Leverkusen

Three Nigerian players, Ademola Lookman, Victor Boniface, and Nathan Tella, are in the running to feature in this season’s Europa League final.

Lookman’s Italian club Atlanta on Thursday secured a crucial 1-1 draw in France against Olympique Marseille in their first leg semifinal clash.

Meanwhile, the fortunes of Boniface and Tella were even brighter as Bayer Leverkusen continued their impressive run with a 2-0 victory away to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Marseille fought back from a deficit to force a 1-1 draw against Atalanta in the opening leg of their UEFA Europa League semifinal.

The visitors took a surprise lead in the 11th minute through former West Ham forward Gianluca Scamacca, who converted Teun Koopmeiners’ pass.

Marseille responded swiftly, with Chancel Mbemba equalizing with a long-range strike.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang squandered two chances on either side of halftime for the host, which eventually proved costly.

Lookman was brought into the game just before the hour mark but couldn’t significantly impact the outcome.

The second leg takes place in Italy on Thursday, 9 May.

In the other semifinal, a stunning curled effort from Robert Andrich helped Bundesliga champions Leverkusen secure a 2-0 lead in the first leg against AS Roma in Rome.

The German side took the lead when a calamitous error from Rick Karsdorp gifted Florian Wirtz the chance to open the scoring. In the second half, Andrich delivered a magnificent strike to secure a comfortable advantage.

Nathan Tella was introduced into the game in the 77th minute. With the outcome of Thursday’s tie, Leverkusen extended their unbeaten run this season to a remarkable 47 matches.

Roma and Leverkusen will reconvene next Thursday for the second leg in Germany, with a place in the final in Dublin against Atalanta or Marseille on May 22.

Samuel Chukwueze remains the most recent Super Eagles player to win the Europa League.

However, after AC Milan’s elimination, the trio of Ademola Lookman, Victor Boniface, and Nathan Tella are now aiming to join the ranks of Nigerian Europa League champions.

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