Alonso admits he's 'proud' of his side despite loss in Dublin

Alonso admits he's 'proud' of his side despite loss in Dublin

Xabi Alonso, the Bayer Leverkusen manager, has claimed that he is "proud" of his players despite losing 3-0 to Atalanta in the Europa League final in Dublin last night.

The German side was on course for an unexpected, unbeaten treble season, having already wrapped up their domestic league. However, Ademola Lookman's hat trick at Aviva Stadium put an end to their historic treble quest.

Leverkusen had a knack for defying the odds all season, but in this contest, their Italian opponents controlled the game from the outset, ending their 51-game unbeaten streak.

The German Bundesliga champions can still complete a domestic double by winning the German Cup this weekend, but this result will sting for Alonso and his players.

The Spanish manager admitted that his side, which normally finds solutions in games, was unable to do so because of Atalanta's energy.

"We weren’t able to play as we wished," said Alonso. "After the first goal, they showed a great deal of energy, and we couldn’t find solutions to counteract that. We couldn’t impose ourselves or fashion goalscoring opportunities."

"Atalanta were better than us, and they deserve the trophy. It wasn't our day. We've had a bad night. It hurts that it happened in such an important match."

Despite this, Alonso added that he is "proud" of his players for the season they have had. They will now focus on the German Pokal Final against second-tier side Kaiserslautern this weekend.

"The normality is not to suffer a first defeat in the 52nd game. It's exceptional what we achieved and we should be proud. But it's painful."

"To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great," Alonso added on TNT Sports. "To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and playing [the Europa League final], we couldn't make it, but then going for the Pokal [German Cup] too means a lot."