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Europa League winners Atalanta bask in hero's welcome on home return

Marco Luzzani / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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Atalanta were given a hero's welcome on Sunday as the Europa League winners strolled past Torino 3-0 in a festive homecoming after their stunning triumph over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin.

Rain and storms have battered northern Italy for most of a soaking wet spring but the sun shone powerfully on the Gewiss Stadium as fans hailed the team that Wednesday swatted aside Leverkusen by the same score in the Europa League final.

Fresh from winning their first ever European trophy -- their first major honour of any sort since 1963 -- and having already qualified for the Champions League, Atalanta could have been forgiven for going through the motions in a party atmosphere.

But instead Gian Piero Gasperini's side thumped Torino to move up to fourth and give themselves a chance to equal their best ever finish of third by winning next weekend's game in hand with Fiorentina.

Atalanta's loud home support chanted "we're the champions of Europe!" at the end of a typically swashbuckling performance against sorry Torino, after which the team paraded the Europa League trophy on the pitch to further chants of "thank you lads".

Gasperini's future has been the hot topic in Bergamo, with persistent rumours of talks with Napoli, who finished their dismal campaign as defending champions with a goalless draw with Lecce.

The 66-year-old described Napoli as a beautiful woman tempting him away from his wife, but on Sunday CEO Luca Percassi suggested that Gasperini would remain faithful.

"Let's hope the wife ends up being more attractive than any girlfriend," joked Percassi before the match.

And after Gasperini held aloft the trophy to huge cheers the crowd belted out a chant of "we're gonna win the league!".

Before the match, fans in the Curva Nord section invited Duvan Zapata, who is on loan from Atalanta at Torino, for a warm round of applause, a scarf and a gigantic bottle of local wine.

Former Colombia forward Zapata led the line for the thrilling Atalanta team which was desperately unlucky to be knocked out of the Covid 19-hit Champions League quarter-finals by Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.

Bergamo was ground zero for the pandemic in Europe and Atalanta have been a ray of light for a city which was deeply scarred.

And as Atalanta walked out through a guard of honour, fans showed their appreciation for the team with a giant banner which read "Thank you for this fantastic season".

Thursday night's hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman was again on target, sweeping home the hosts' second just before half-time after in-form striker Gianluca Scamacca celebrated his Italy call-up with a beautiful finish midway through the first half.

The difference on and off the pitch between Atalanta and Torino, a far more storied club, could not have been more stark as the hosts ran riot in their shiny redeveloped stadium and looked forward to Champions League football.

Seven-time Italian champions, Torino have been stagnating for years and end another season stranded in mid-table, too good to go down, not good enough to challenge for honours and with no future to speak of.

Mario Pasalic added a third from the penalty spot in the 71st minute but Atalanta could have run out even heavier winners as they had three goals chalked off, one for a very soft-looking Scamacca foul.

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