ATHENS: Olympiakos of Pireus made history as the first Greek club to win a European prize when they beat Fiorentina 1-0 after extra time in the Europa Conference League final with a late winner from Ayoub El Kaabi.

In the 116th minute, in extra time, El Kaabi slipped in front of his marker to head home 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, and 16th in Europe after he also scored in the Europa League qualifiers and group stage.

He had scored five times across two legs when they beat Premier League side Aston Villa in the semi-finals.

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

Mendilibar said: “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.”

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 which ensures Olympiakos play in the Europa League next season.

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

Olympiakos became the first Greek club to lift a European trophy, with Panathinaikos coming closest in 1971 when they lost the European Cup final to Ajax Amsterdam.

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 heartbreaking cup final defeats in two years as the wait for a first trophy since 2001 continues.

“Amazing, for Olympiakos and me. Really proud of my guys,” 34-year-old forward Stevan Jovetic, who spent five years at Fiorentina, told TNT Sports.

“We did great all year and deserved it. I have to compliment Fiorentina. (Losing) two years in a row, a shame for them.”


Ayoub El Kaabi struck four minutes from the end of extra time as Olympiakos beat Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final to become the first Greek side to win a European trophy.
The Moroccan striker, hero of Olympiakos’ run to the final, stooped low to head in Santiago Hezze’s cross and spark pandemonium in the AEK Arena in Athens.
A lengthy video assistant referee check confirmed El Kaabi’s 11th goal of the competition and their place in Greek footballing history.
It is a second year of dramatic heartbreak for Fiorentina after the Italian side were beaten by West Ham in last season’s final thanks to Jarrod Bowen’s late goal.
Olympiakos flew out of the blocks as they attempted to reward their ferocious support, who had travelled the short distance from Piraeus to the home of their rivals AEK in northern Athens.
It was only the second time a Greek team had reached a European final while Fiorentina were playing in their sixth.
Both sides traded blows in a first half that promised goalmouth action but resulted in few clear chances.
On-loan Wolves midfielder Daniel Podence forced Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano into a fine save down his left in the opening three minutes.
Giacomo Bonaventura should have given Fiorentina the lead but his tentative effort in the box safely dropped into Konstantinos Tzolakis’ arms.
The Italians put together the best move of the night in the second half as right-back Dodo surged forward and found Christian Kouame in space inside the box but his poor contact on the ball allowed Tzolakis to claw it clear.
Extra time was needed it was El Kaabi – who scored five goals in the semi-finals against Aston Villa – who rose to the occasion again.