Olympiacos 1 – 0 Fiorentina

Olympiakos beat Fiorentina 1-0 after extra time in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday to win the club’s first major European trophy, thanks to a late goal from Ayoub El Kaabi.

In a match of high intensity and physicality but low quality in front of goal, neither team could find the net in the 90 minutes of regulation before El Kaabi scored the winning goal in the 116th minute.

With the match seemingly headed to a penalty shootout, El Kaabi got ahead of his marker to slot home a cross from Santiago Hezze, but the players and fans had a long and nervous wait for the VAR to check the offside before the goal was awarded.

The result marked the second consecutive defeat in the Europa Conference League final for Fiorentina, who had reached this season’s summit without losing a single game.

How Olympiakos made history in Athens

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Rodinei celebrates at the end of the Conference League final

Piraeus is partying like never before. It’s a pretty surprising accomplishment for a team that had its third head coach earlier this season.

But El Kaabi would score his 16th goal in his 19th appearance in UEFA club competitions this season, the most by an African player in a single campaign.

The result means José Luis Mendilibar sealed a European honor for the second consecutive campaign, having guided Sevilla to Europa League glory last season.

Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano blocks the shot of Ayoub El Kaabi of Olympiakos during the Conference League final
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Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano blocks the shot of Ayoub El Kaabi of Olympiakos during the Conference League final

Olympiakos survived the Istanbul penalty shootout against Fenerbahce in the quarter-finals thanks to a heroic performance by goalkeeper Konstantinos Tzolakis, but El Kaabi’s intervention with four minutes left in extra time averted penalty drama.

This was a chance of redemption for Fiorentina, who arrived seeking their first European title since the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup victory over Rangers in 1961.

But after losing all four of his previous European finals, including the dramatic defeat to West Ham at this stage last season, Vincenzo Italiano suffered even more agony in what could prove to be his last game in charge.

Olympiacos players celebrate their victory
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Olympiacos players celebrate their victory

Italiano, whose contract expires at Fiorentina this summer, picked eight of the starting XI that night against the Hammers here in Athens.

Giacomo Bonaventura and Nicolás González lacked composure as they missed opportunities in the first half, while Daniel Podence, on loan from Wolves, tested Pietro Terracciano with Olympiakos’ best chance in the first half.

There was very little to separate the two teams in a tentative second half in which Vicente Iborra, now with a Europa Conference League honor to add to his four Europa League titles with Sevilla, went wide.

Olympiakos becomes the first Greek team to win a major European club competition
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Olympiakos becomes the first Greek team to win a major European club competition

This match was being played at the home of Olympiakos rival AEK Athens, about 15 kilometers from his home in Piraeus, and Mendilibar turned to former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic for inspiration.

In extra time, with the game still goalless, he almost got there when he stepped inside with his right foot and made a smart save from Terracciano.

Fiorentina players react disappointed at the end of the match
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Fiorentina players react disappointed at the end of the match

Olympiakos were only the second Greek club to participate in a major European club final after Panathinaikos lost to Ajax at Wembley in the 1971 European Cup, and their confidence began to grow as the team’s energy levels Fiorentina began to decline.

Italiano had asked his players to “seize the bitterness” of their defeat to West Ham 12 months ago, but they were breached with four minutes of extra time remaining when El Kaabi headed in Hezze’s low cross.

He would survive an agonizing VAR review to spark wild scenes across Athens.

Whats Next?

Fiorentina still have one Serie A match remaining this weekend when they visit Atalanta on Sunday; start at 5 pm

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