Conference League final: Olympiacos Piraeus crowned first European Cup winner from Greece after drama in 116th minute

Florence loses final again
Olympiacos Piraeus crowned after drama in 116th minute

Nothing happens for a long time in the final of the Conference League. When everyone was already planning for a penalty shootout, Olympiacos Piraeus struck shortly before the end of extra time. For AC Florence, this meant another bitter disappointment: the Italians had to make it to the final for the second time in a row.

Olympiakos Piraeus has redeemed Greek football and brought a European Cup title to the country for the first time. Greece’s record champions used their “home advantage” in Athens and won the Conference League final 1-0 (0-0, 0-0) after extra time against AC Florence.

In a weak match full of mistakes on both sides, striker Ayoub El Kaabi (116th) scored the winner for the Greeks, and coach Jose Luis Mendilibar’s team crowned their European season in the stadium of rivals AEK Athens. Just like last year, when Florence lost the final to West Ham United (1:2) after conceding a goal in the final minute, the Italians led by their Karlsruhe-born coach Vincenzo Italiano missed the chance to win their first European title since 1961.

In an intense but also erratic first half, scoring opportunities were in short supply. A goal by Nikola Milenkovic (9th minute) for Florence was disallowed for offside. Olympiakos goalkeeper Konstantinos Tzolakis thwarted two opportunities from Giacomo Bonaventura within a minute. At the other end, Daniel Podence’s header from a corner was saved by Italian goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano.

Apparently clashes in the stands

The second half also remained at a manageable level with a constant stream of bad passes on both sides. The Florentines had Olympiakos striker Ayoub El Kaabi, who had scored five goals in the semi-final against Aston Villa alone, under control at all times – until the 116th minute. Accepted after a lengthy review by the video assistant.

Because the journey to the AEK arena was only about 15 kilometers long, Olympiakos fans were clearly in the majority in the stands. A state of emergency also prevailed in the city, and due to the explosive nature of the situation, the authorities had massively tightened security measures, particularly in the Athens suburb of Nea Filadelfia. There were reportedly fights in the stands during the game.

The Greeks, who had lost twice to SC Freiburg in the group stage of the Europa League and were relegated to the Conference League in third place, were afraid to take risks before the break, while Florence had the better chances. However, both teams made a number of bad passes until extra time and little came out of the game. Shortly before the end of extra time, El Kaabi scored with a header.

Eintracht Frankfurt was the only German representative in the Conference League and had already failed in the intermediate round against Union St. Gilloise.

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