Tella Boniface [1296x729]
Tella Boniface [1296x729] (Credit: Jörg Schüler/Bayer 04 Leverkusen via Getty Images)

England s Bellingham shows he can bend Euro 2024 to his will

Nathan Tella and Victor Boniface concluded a sensational season with German Cup glory, as Bayer Leverkusen completed the domestic double, going some way to making up for their UEFA Europa League final failure against Ademola Lookman-inspired Atalanta.

Speaking of Lookman, he was again among the goals as Serie A approached its conclusion on Sunday, while Senegal's M'Baye Niang was the late, late hero for Empoli as they avoided relegation with almost the last kick of the season.

It's been a decisive week in the careers of Super Eagles duo Tella and Boniface, who concluded the Bundesliga season last weekend as Invincible champions, before falling short in their midweek Europa League final against Atalanta.

As well as ending their undefeated run - stretching back for 51 matches - there were concerns about how the loss would affect Xabi Alonso's side ahead of their German Cup final against Kaiserslautern this weekend.

However, with the prospect of a domestic double on the line -- Bayer looking to become only the fifth Germán club in the Bundesliga era to achieve the feat -- these unlikely champions overcame the heartbreak with a 1-0 victory, Granit Xhaka scoring the only goal of the game.

Odion Kossounou, whose lack of composure nearly cost the Ivory Coast so dearly in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal against Mali, when he was shown an early red card, was again dismissed late in the first half following two bookable offences.

It was the last thing the tired legs of Leverkusen needed, particularly with Kossounou introduced to the lineup after missing the Europa League final, but it was not enough to deny them the second German Cup of their 119-year history.

Burkina Faso centreback Edmond Tapsoba featured throughout for Leverkusen, while Morocco's Amine Adli was introduced at the break and Tella made a late cameo as Alonso's side sought to see out the contest.

"Two in my first season," Boniface wrote on social media after the final, referring to the two trophies won this campaign. "Not bad."

Having celebrated Leverkusen's league triumph by dancing to Ghanaian hit Kolom, penned by Buk Bak, alongside teammate Jeremie Frimpong, Tella was also spotted leading the celebrations after the DFB Pokal triumph.

This time, it was Nigerian beats, with the ex-Arsenal starlet dancing to Burna Boy song Wetin Man Do Go along with Boniface and Frimpong at the conclusion of their victory over Kaiserslautern.

Both Tella and Boniface are set to be in action for Nigeria during the international break as the West African giants take on South Africa and Benin in a pair of World Cup qualifiers. After that, attention may well turn to the transfer market for Leverkusen's African stars.

Boniface, who netted 14 league goals during his campaign Bundesliga campaign, when he was named Rookie of the Season, has been linked with the likes of Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, while centreback Kossounou has been named as a for both Manchester United and Liverpool among others.

Until then, they can look back with pride on an unforgettable campaign, and while European success - and a full Invincible season - ultimately evaded them, there's no doubt that this Leverkusen team have achieved something truly remarkable this term.

In midweek, it was the turn of another Super Eagle -- hat-trick hero Lookman -- to write history as he became the first African player to score more than once in a major European final.

He became only the third Nigerian to score in the final of a UEFA competition, and only the sixth player - the first since 1975 - to score a hat-trick in a major European final.

This weekend he was back to domestic duties, as Atalanta began to wrap up their Serie A campaign with a 3-0 victory over Torino.

Lookman was again among the goals, doubling the hosts' advantage late in the first half when he reacted quickest from close range after Luca Gemello fumbled a Mario Pasalic shot into the attacker's path.

Victory sent Atalanta - who conclude their campaign against Fiorentina - into a top four finish next season, accompanying the Champions League football that will already be theirs after their Europa League success.

Lookman's consecutive goalscoring displays demonstrate that he's ending the season in fine fettle as the international break approaches, with the 26-year-old's consistency -- coupled with his fine showing at the Nations Cup -- suggesting that he is realising the potential he demonstrated so tantalisingly as a youngster.

At the other end of the table, there was heartbreak for Caleb Okoli's Frosinone, as they were condemned to Serie B after M'Baye Niang's late, late winner for Empoli against AS Roma.

With 93 minutes on the clock, Empoli were still 18th in the table -- and destined for the second tier -- until Niang, picked out by Matteo Cancellieri, staggered his run as he entered the box before sending a thumping, low right-footed effort beyond Mile Svilar.

His goal prompted remarkable scenes of celebration at the Stadio Carlo Castellani, with all of the club's substitutes and backroom staff alike racing onto the pitch and swamping the West African before a full-scale pitch invasion at the final whistle.

Niang, a mid-season arrival from Adana Demirspor, can take enormous credit for being the inspiration behind Empoli's survival this term.

This was his sixth goal in 14 Serie A matches, and despite only featuring for half the campaign, he ends the season as the club's top scorer with two more than his nearest rival.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Empoli's new favourite son Niang, who still has one year to run on his contract with Turkish side Demirspor.

Over in Turkey, Wilfried Zaha was introduced as an 80th minute substitute as Galatasaray wrapped up the Super Lig title with a 3-0 victory at Konyaspor.

In 13 years at Crystal Palace, the 31-year-old failed to win a single piece of silverware, but has required less than 12 months to clinch the Turkish crown with Gala.

Sèrge Aurier, a February arrival, was also introduced from the bench, while over at the Ulker Stadyumu, Fenerbahce's 6-0 victory over Istanbulspor wasn't enough for them to overhaul their bitter rivals at the pinnacle of the table.

Nigeria's Bright Osayi-Samuel netted for Fener, but ultimately ends the season three points off the pace in the title race.

His international colleague, Joe Aribo, will be celebrating however after Southampton beat Leeds United 1-0 in Sunday's Championship playoff final to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Aribo, who remained with Saints after their 2023 relegation from the top flight, played the full 90 minutes in the Southampton midfield, making a series of vital defensive contributions as Russell Martin's side effectively neutralised their opponents.

"Back like we never left," Aribo posted on social media, referring to Saints' instant return to the top table.

Promotion represents an opportunity for the 27-year-old to prove he can thrive in the top flight, having struggled to make the leap from Scottish football to the Prem in 2022.