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Celebrations in Greece as Olympiacos Beats Fiorentina 1-0 for First European Title

ATHENS  — Olympiacos won Greece’s first European club title by beating Fiorentina 1-0 with a last-gasp goal in extra time in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.

Ayoub El Kaabi provided the dramatic ending, diving to nudge in a last-gasp goal in the second period of extra time, with fans erupting in celebration after a lengthy wait for a VAR check for offside.

The Moroccan striker – who finished as the competition’s top scorer – struck in the 116th minute of the match, dropping to his knees as he waited the goal review. El Kaabi met a cross from Santiago Hezze to decide a game that had looked destined for a penalty shootout following an energetic but largely risk-free encounter at AEK Arena.

The late goal condemned Fiorentina and its coach Vincenzo Italiano to a second straight defeat in the final of the Europa Conference League, after losing last year to West Ham.

Olympiacos F.C. players celebrate, with their fans, their team’s victory in the Conference League Final between Olympiacos and Fiorentina, in Piraeus, Greece, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Olympiacos won the final by 1-0. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Olympiacos coach Jose Luis Mendilibar secured a second straight European title after winning the Europa League with Sevilla last season.

Tens of thousands of Olympiacos fans joined wild celebrations across the Greek capital after attending outdoor viewing parties. Youths held up lit flares in the port city of Piraeus, near Athens, where the team is based.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described Olympiacos as “a true legend,” adding in an online post: “Olympiacos has won the Europa Conference League and made history! A sensational night for the club itself, but also for Greek football as a whole.”

Olympiacos F.C. players celebrate, with their fans, their team’s victory in the Conference League Final between Olympiacos and Fiorentina, in Piraeus, Greece, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Olympiacos won the final by 1-0. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

The third-tier European club competition took place amid a massive security operation, with some 5,000 police officers forming concentric cordons around a northern area of the capital.

The final was briefly marred by scuffles between Fiorentina fans inside the stadium and riot police next to them.

Although the visitors dominated the early stages of the final, Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano kept his team in the game with two impressive fingertip saves to block on-target shots from Daniel Podence in the fourth minute and Stevan Jovetic in the sixth minute of extra time.

El Kaabi, who scored a total of 11 goals in the competition, had been largely sidelined in the match by Fiorentina’s unyielding four-man defense.

Olympiacos F.C. players celebrate, with their fans, their team’s victory in the Conference League Final between Olympiacos and Fiorentina, in Piraeus, Greece, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Olympiacos won the final by 1-0. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Olympiacos F.C. players celebrate, with their fans, their team’s victory in the Conference League Final between Olympiacos and Fiorentina, in Piraeus, Greece, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Olympiacos won the final by 1-0. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Olympiacos’ Ayoub El Kaabi, left, and Olympiacos’ Chiquinho celebrate at the end of the Conference League final soccer match between Olympiacos FC and ACF Fiorentina at OPAP Arena in Athens, Greece, Thursday, May 30, 2024. Olympiacos won 1-0. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Olympiacos’ Kostas Fortounis lifts the trophy after winning the Conference League final soccer match between Olympiacos FC and ACF Fiorentina at OPAP Arena in Athens, Greece, Thursday, May 30, 2024. Olympiacos won 1-0. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Olympiacos players celebrate with the Conference League trophy at the end of the Conference League final soccer match between Olympiacos FC and ACF Fiorentina at OPAP Arena in Athens, Greece, Thursday, May 30, 2024. Olympiacos won 1-0. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

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