Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (May 29, 2024) Game Analysis

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

In a match that was high on intensity and physicality but low on quality in front of goal, neither side could find the net in the regulation 90 minutes before El Kaabi netted the winner in the 116th minute.

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With the game seemingly headed to a penalty shootout, El Kaabi got in front of his marker to bundle in Santiago Hezze‘s cross but the players and fans had a long, nervous wait for VAR to check for offside before the goal was awarded.

It was the Morocco striker’s 11th goal in the Conference League this season, all of them in the knockout stages. He scored five across two legs when they beat Premier League side Aston Villa in the semifinals.

“I have no words,” said Olympiacos winger Giorgos Masouras as other team mates nearby cried and celebrated with their fans.

“It has not yet sunk in. We did it together. I was certain we would win it and we held on and got it in the end.”

“We are now part of Europe’s elite and have more responsibilities. We have to maintain this level now,” Masouras said.

The trophy presentation was also a moment to treasure for Olympiacos manager Jose Luis Mendilibar, who won the Europa League with Sevilla last season and took over the Greek club only in February.

“I am very happy that we achieved something that the club had not achieved before. We will celebrate, we will cheer and then we will get back to work for what comes next,” Mendilibar said.

Olympiacos lift the Europa Conference League trophy after beating Fiorentina.

Boris Streubel – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

The Greek fans in the AEK Arena erupted when the ball went in and the volume went up once again when VAR confirmed the goal.

Outside the stadium, thousands of Olympiacos fans gathered at the port of Piraeus and celebrated wildly after the final whistle, lighting red flares and fireworks.

The closest a Greek club had previously come to winning a European trophy was in 1971 when Panathinaikos lost the European Cup final to Ajax Amsterdam.

Tens of thousands of Olympiacos fans joined wild celebrations across the Greek capital after attending outdoor viewing parties. Youths held up lit flares in the port city of Piraeus, near Athens, where the team is based.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described Olympiacos as “a true legend,” adding in an online post: “Olympiacos has won the Europa Conference League and made history! A sensational night for the club itself, but also for Greek football as a whole.”

The third-tier European club competition took place amid a massive security operation, with some 5,000 police officers forming concentric cordons around a northern area of the capital.

The final was briefly marred by scuffles between Fiorentina fans inside the stadium and riot police next to them.

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

Vincenzo Italiano’s side also lost the Coppa Italia final last season, marking three cup final defeats in two years as the wait for a first trophy since 2001 continues.

“We really believed this time. It hurts,” Italiano told Sky Sports Italia.

“It’s disappointing for the second time. It’s disappointing because again we had many situations to score goals but the players did everything they could.

“It hurts to see my players cry. We really believed this time we could have a different epilogue to this campaign.”

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.