Europa Conference League

Conference League: Olympiakos win first major European trophy with dramatic win over Fiorentina

Olympiakos secured their first major European trophy in club history by defeating Fiorentina 1-0 after extra time in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.

Ayoub El Kaabi’s late goal in the 116th minute sealed the victory in a match marked by intensity and physicality but short on goal-scoring opportunities.

Despite numerous chances from both sides, the regulation 90 minutes ended goalless. El Kaabi finally broke the deadlock by bundling in a cross from Santiago Hezze, a goal that was confirmed only after a tense VAR check for offside. This moment of brilliance ended Fiorentina’s unbeaten run in this season’s competition and handed them their second consecutive defeat in the Europa Conference League final.

Olympiakos head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar expressed his elation after the match: “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 victory was a testament to Olympiakos’ resilience under Mendilibar, who took over as the club’s third head coach of the season in February. His tactical acumen and leadership helped the team navigate through a challenging campaign, culminating in this historic win.

The final, held in Athens, was a tight contest with both teams struggling to convert their chances. Fiorentina had an early goal disallowed for offside when Nikola Milenkovic thought he had scored just 10 minutes into the game. Olympiakos’ defense remained steadfast throughout, with David Carmo earning the Man of the Match award for his commanding presence at the back.

Fiorentina continued to create opportunities, with Nicolas Gonzalez and Christian Kouame both missing crucial chances to put their team ahead. Olympiakos, however, grew into the game and started creating chances of their own. Vicente Iborra came close to scoring, but his header went wide, sending the match into extra time.

Substitute Stevan Jovetic, a former Fiorentina player, nearly scored for Olympiakos, but it was El Kaabi who finally found the back of the net. His 33rd goal of the season sparked wild celebrations among the Olympiakos players and fans, as they awaited the VAR decision.

This triumph is not only a personal milestone for Mendilibar but also a historic achievement for Olympiakos, marking their first major European trophy. Mendilibar’s remarkable record of back-to-back European titles, following his Europa League success with Sevilla last year, cements his reputation as a top-tier coach capable of delivering on the biggest stages.

The victory ensures Olympiakos’ place in the annals of European football history, as they become the first Greek side to win a major European club competition. Mendilibar’s marathon journey through Europe, overcoming formidable opponents like Maccabi Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce, and Aston Villa, has culminated in this crowning achievement.

Piraeus, home to Olympiakos, is set to celebrate like never before, as the club’s supporters revel in this unprecedented success.

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