Olympiacos vs Fiorentina 1-0: Viola Defeated in UECL Final Again

The Conference League Final was once again fatal to Fiorentina as theViola fell at the last hurdle before European glory. After 120 minutes of anything-but-memorable football in Athens, Olympiacos prevailed 1-0 thanks to an extra time strike from Ayoub El Kaabi that certified the first victory in a European competition for a Greek club.  

After losing to West Ham one year ago in another UECL Final, Vincenzo Italiano’s side came home empty handed again. They did a bit more that Olympiacos during regular times but their inefficiency upfront ultimately cost them much as neither Andrea Belotti nor Nico Gonzales nor M’Bala Nzola managed to open a breach into the Greek wall. 

There was very little to report from a tense and cagey game that reminded of some European Cup finals in the 1980s. And, this is not a compliment. 

Fiorentina’s best opportunity in the first half came on Jack Bonaventura’s feet. The former Milan midfielder didn’t make the best out of it though, as he came up with a somewhat weak and central shot that did not scare Kostantinos Tzolakis. 

The Greeks also had their share of chances but Pietro Terracciano in goal was well alert. He sprung to the right to palm away a tricky Daniel Podence shot early on, then courageously exited to anticipate El Kaabi by a split second when the Moroccan was picked past the Viola defensive line in the dying minutes of the first period. 

The second half did not add much to the show. Nikola Milenkovic tried to break the balance with the specialty of the house – a powerful header of his – to no avail. Christian Kouamé should have done better from a M’bala Nzola suggestion but his clumsy shot was defused by Tzolakis.  

For Olympiacos, Vicente Iborra’s header sailed not far from Terracciano’s right post, giving the Fiorentina shot-stopper his only scare in the second period. 

Thirty more minutes of football were the logical consequence of a match that never quite caught fire. That was when Olympiacos became more dangerous, eventually finding the only goal of the night. Five minutes into extra time, Terracciano rose to the task again with a key deflection from Stevan Jovetic’s conclusion. That was a sinister prelude to what was going to happen.

With 116 minutes on the clock and both coaches likely busy with deciding who from their sides would take part to the penalty shootout, Santiago Hezze whipped the ball in the box from the left and El Kaabi came up with a perfectly-timed diving header, beating substitute Luca Ranieri in the process and slotting the ball past Terracciano. 

There were a couple more minutes of suspense as the VAR checked for an alleged offside position. The verdict, however, was favorable to Olympiacos, who just had to hold for a few more minutes before they could take the luxury of celebrating in the stadium of their cross-town rivals AEK Athens. 

For Fiorentina, on the other hand, it was another bitter ending and a night of regrets.  



May 29, 2024 – UEFA Conference 2023/2024 Final
OLYMPIACOS – FIORENTINA 1-0 after extra times

SCORER: 116′ El Kaabi

OLYMPIACOS (4-2-3-1): Tzolakis; Rodinei, Retsos, Carmo, Ortega (91′ Quini); Iborra, Hezze; Podence, Chiquinho, Fortounis (71′ Jovetic); El Kaabi (122′ El-Arabi) (Paschalakis, Papadoudis, Alexandropoulos, Richards, João Carvalho, Ntoi, Apastoulopoulos) Coach: Mendilibar
FIORENTINA (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Dodô, Martínez Quarta, Milenkovic, Biraghi (106′ Ranieri); Mandragora, Arthur (74′ Duncan), Bonaventura (82′ Barák); González (106′ Beltrán), Kouame (82′ Ikoné); Belotti (58′ Nzola (Christensen, López, Infantino, Faraoni, Kayode, Parisi) Coach: Italiano
REFEREE: Mr. Soares Dias (Portugal)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Podence, Jovetic, Paschalakis, El Kaabi (O), Martinez Quarta, Kouamé, Biraghi (F); Added Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 7′, 1st Extra Half 0′, 2nd Extra Half 5′