Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory

By Sports Desk May 29, 2024 191

Ayoub El Kaabi was the hero as Olympiacos won their first major European honour in history as they snatched a dramatic 1-0 extra-time victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

After nothing could separate the sides inside 90 minutes, talisman El Kaabi scored a 116th-minute winner at the AEK Arena as they became the first Greek side to win a major European competition.

Once again, Fiorentina fell at the final hurdle of this competition, with La Viola also losing out to West Ham in the Prague showpiece last season.

However, the success belonged to Olympiacos and head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, who secured continental glory in successive seasons following his Europa League triumph with Sevilla this time last year.

Daniel Podence tested Pietro Terracciano early on before Fiorentina thought they had opened the scoring just nine minutes into the final.

Cristiano Biraghi's cross crept into Konstantinos Tzolakis' bottom-right corner, but Nikola Milenkovic was ruled offside for his position in front of the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

Despite their celebrations being cut short, Fiorentina continued with the greater attacking impetus throughout the first half.

Yet La Viola's dominance paid little dividends as Giacomo Bonaventura – their scorer in last season’s final defeat to West Ham – wasted the best chance, shooting straight at Tzolakis from close range after 21 minutes.

Opportunities remained elusive after the break but Fiorentina again went close in the 69th minute as Dodo found Christian Kouame, whose scuffed effort was pushed away by Tzolakis.

Olympiacos almost struck 11 minutes later when Francisco Ortega's free-kick was met by Iborra, but the 36-year-old's header missed the inside Terracciano's right-hand post as the final headed for extra-time.

Mendilibar had earlier introduced former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, who almost came back to haunt his old club in the 96th minute, when cutting inside before fizzing a strike that Terracciano tipped away.

A penalty shoot-out appeared likely when Tzolakis denied Jonathan Ikone, until El Kaabi ghosted in to nod home Santiago Hezze's cross with just four minutes remaining and send Olympiacos' fans into ecstasy after a lengthy VAR check for offside in Athens.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 29 May 2024 16:59
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