Olympiakos win Europa Conference League after El Kaabi floors Fiorentina

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Olympiakos won their first major European trophy as Ayoub El Kaabi’s late extra-time winner inflicted a second straight Europa Conference League final defeat on Fiorentina.

A forgettable final sparked into life with just four minutes of extra time remaining as El Kaabi turned home the only goal of a game taking place at the home of Olympiakos’s rivals AEK Athens.

While the Greek side could celebrate becoming the first team from their country to win a European trophy, Fiorentina were once again left wondering what might have been a year after losing in the final to West Ham.

A lengthy VAR check for offside followed El Kaabi’s effort but the goal was allowed, settling a final that had failed to burst into life until that point.

Fiorentina thought they had broken the deadlock with just 10 minutes on the clock when defender Nikola Milenkovic turned home only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Nicolás González miscued when presented with a fine chance for Fiorentina towards the end of a tight first half. With little goalmouth action to speak of it was the Serie A side who were carving out more opportunities, but Christian Kouamé was the next player to fluff his lines when in a good position.

Olympiakos stood firm and started 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.

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A memorable campaign for El Kaabi – who scored five times across the semi-final win over Aston Villa – was topped off with his 33rd goal of the season in all competitions, 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, the VAR check eventually sided with Olympiacos who then saw out the closing stages as head coach José Luis Mendilibar – the club’s third manager of the season – secured back-to-back European trophies after guiding Sevilla to Europa League glory last year.

Source: theguardian.com

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