Olympiakos 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 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.

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.

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.

“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,” Olympiakos head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said.

Olympiakos' Ayoub El Kaabi scores the only goal
Ayoub El Kaabi’s strike for Olympiakos (115:16) was the latest winning goal in a major European final since Diego Forlán’s goal for Atlético de Madrid against Fulham in May 2010 in the UEFA Europa League final (115:36

Player ratings

Olympiakos: Tzolakis (7), Rodinei (7), Retsos (6), Carmo (8), Ortega (6), Hezze (7), Iborra (7), Daniel Podence (7), Chiquinho (6), Fortounis (5), El Kaabi (7).

Subs: Andre Horta (7), El Arabi (n/a), Quini (6), Masouras (n/a), Jovetic (6).

Fiorentina: Terracciano (6), Dodo (7), Milenkovic (7), Martinez (6), Biraghi (6), Arthur (5), Mandragora (6), Gonzalez (5), Bonaventura (5), Kouame (6), Belotti (5).

Subs: Beltran (6), Ikone (5), Ranieri (n/a), Nzola (6), Duncan (6), Barak (6).

Man of the match: David Carmo.

How Olympiakos made history in Athens

Olympiakos won their first major European trophy
Olympiakos won their first major European trophy

Piraeus is going to party like it never has before. It is quite a stunning achievement for a side who were on their third head coach earlier this season.

Fiorentina had not been so lucky earlier in the game. The Italians thought they had broken the deadlock with just 10 minutes on the clock when defender Nikola Milenkovic turned home only for it to be ruled out for offside.

Nicolas Gonzalez miscued when presented with a fine chance for Fiorentina towards the end of a tight first half that unsurprisingly ended goalless.

Ayoub El Kaabi scored the only goal for Olympiakos
El Kaabi became the first player to score 11 goals in the knockout rounds of major European competition in a single campaign since the addition of group stages

With little goalmouth action to speak of it was the Serie A side who were carving out more opportunities, but Christian Kouame was the next player to fluff his lines when in a good position.

Olympiacos stood firm and starting carving out chances of their own but Vicente Iborra could only glance a header wide as the Europa Conference League final went to an extra period for the first time.

Substitute Stevan Jovetic, a former Fiorentina forward, forced a smart save out of Pietro Terracciano but the moment of individual quality needed to settle the tie was moments away.

Olympiacos players celebrate their victory
Olympiacos players celebrate their victory

A memorable season for El Kaabi – who scored five times across the semi-final win over Aston Villa – was topped off with his 33rd goal of the campaign, prompting wild celebrations just down the road in Piraeus as he stooped to head home Santiago Hezze’s cross.

As players from both sides dropped to their knees, a long VAR check eventually sided with Olympiacos who then saw out the closing stages as Mendilibar – the club’s third boss of the season – secured back to back European trophies after guiding Sevilla to Europa League glory last year.

Marathon man Mendilibar achieves sporting immortality

Jose Luis Mendilibar has won two European titles in a row
Jose Luis Mendilibar has won two European titles in a row

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

Jose Luis Mendilibar is the man you call upon when you want to win a trophy, or so it would appear.

Olympiakos were onto their third manager of the season when he took charge in February.

Diego Martinez was dismissed after just five months at the helm while Carlos Carvalhal lasted just 11 games.

Rodinei celebrates at the end of the Conference League final
Rodinei celebrates at the end of the Conference League final

But Mendilibar, who led Sevilla to Europa League glory last season after only being in charge for a matter of months, is the miracle worker and a God now in Athens.

Fiorentina wilted under the pressure again, twelve months on from Jarrod Bowen’s hammer blow.

In this early summer of heightened sensitivity around managerial turnover, Mendilibar should be revered. He beat Jose Mourinho last season in a Europa League final.

He saw off serial winner Unai Emery en route to this final, too. Such resilience in this Olympiakos side, who overturned a 4-1 home defeat by Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last 16 and then saw off Fenerbahce in the quarter-finals – on penalties in Istanbul – to set up the decisive meeting with Villa.

Olympiakos become the first Greek side to win a major European club competition
Olympiakos become the first Greek side to win a major European club competition

“Along the way, we’ve crossed the whole of Europe, playing against a lot of opponents,” said Mendilibar on the eve of this game.

“I think we could call it a marathon, and now we’ve reached the end.”

Mendilibar is the marathon man whose dreams of sporting immortality in Greece have been realised.

Opta stats – Fiorentina’s unwanted record

Fiorentina players react disappointed at full time
Fiorentina players react disappointed at full-time

  • Olympiakos have won their first ever major European trophy, also becoming the first ever Greek side to be victorious in such competition.
  • Having also lost last season’s UEFA Conference League final to West Ham, Fiorentina have become the first side to lose consecutive major European finals since Benfica in 2012-13 and 2013-14, with both finals coming in the UEFA Europa League.
  • Olympiakos’ Ayoub El Kaabi is the leading goalscorer across major European competition this season with 14 goals, only five players have ever scored more in a single season, while he’s the first non-European player to net 14+ goals since Lionel Messi in 2011-12 (14).
  • Fiorentina have now lost five of their six finals in major European competition; only Juventus (10) have lost more among Italian teams.
  • Olympiakos have become the first side to win a major European competition in their home country since Feyenoord beat Dortmund 3-2 in the UEFA Cup final in Rotterdam in 2002.

What’s next?

Fiorentina still have one remaining Serie A fixture this weekend when they visit Atalanta on Sunday; kick-off 5pm.