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Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina: Player ratings as El Kaabi caps off memorable European season in style

Olympiacos defeated Fiorentina 1-0 after extra time in a closely contested Europa Conference League final at AEK Arena to lift their first European trophy this evening.

Given the stakes, a cagey start was unsurprising. Olympiacos threatened first through Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Daniel Podence, who forced a relatively routine save from Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano.

La Viola thought they drew first blood in the ninth minute, as Cristiano Biraghi’s attempted cross ended up in the back of the net, only for the linesman’s flag to go up for Nikola Milenkovic’s offside.

Even though he failed to touch the ball, the Serbian defender influenced the play.

Ten minutes after their disallowed goal, Vincenzo Italiano’s side came close to breaking the deadlock twice in quick succession.

Giacomo Bonaventura, who opened Fiorentina’s account in last season’s final, couldn’t beat Konstantinos Tzolakis from close range twice in less than 60 seconds.

Jose Luis Mendilibar’s men nearly punished the veteran’s wasteful finishing when Terracciano’s brilliant save denied Podence’s glancing header on the near post after Chiquinho’s delightful set-piece delivery.

The remainder of the first half was a tactical battle between the two managers. Neither side showed any willingness to take risks, resulting in an uneventful contest.

Unfortunately for those in attendance, the second half started similarly, with the first effort coming around the hour mark when Milenkovic’s misdirected header flew wide of the post.

Christian Kouame had a far better chance to break the deadlock a few minutes later. But he miskicked the ball from a promising position, making it relatively comfortable for Tzolakis to avert the danger.

Olympiacos tried to reply through Vicente Iborra, but his header from just inside the box failed to hit the target. It was also the Greek giants’ only attempt in the second half.

Fiorentina didn’t impress either, especially in the last 20 minutes, as if they had already accepted the inevitability of extra time.

That approach almost cost them dearly in the added period.

Lucas Martinez Quarta handed the ball inside the box, but referee Artur Soares Dias waved play on, though it was as close to a penalty call as it gets.

Moments later, Olympiacos knocked on the door again. Second-half substitute Stevan Jovetic dribbled past two of his markers before unleashing a superb curler from the edge of the box.

Terracciano was up to the task, deflecting the Montenegro stalwart’s shot for a corner.

When it looked like a penalty shootout would decide the winner, Conference League top-scorer Ayoub El Kaabi netted his 11th European goal this term to put Olympiacos in front in the 116h minute.

Player Ratings

Olympiacos (4-2-3-1)

Konstantinos Tzolakis (8/10) – The Greek stopper was a safe pair of gloves, although it’s fair to say Fiorentina’s feeble initiative made things easy for him.

Rodinei (7/10) – Perhaps preoccupied with keeping Kouame quiet, the offensive-minded right-back gave up his attacking aspirations. He excelled at the back.

Panagiotis Retsos (8/10) – Not even a head injury at the start of the second half could’ve competed with his unwavering desire to showcase his class in his first European final. And he did.

David Carmo (7/10) – Despite being repeatedly beaten by Milenkovic in the air, the Porto loanee fared tremendously well against Andrea Belotti and his successor M’Bala Nzola.

Francisco Ortega (8/10) – Tasked with dealing with Fiorentina’s best player Nicolas Gonzalez, the Argentine passed the test with flying colours, even though his defensive duties took their toll on his attacking contribution.

Vicente Iborra (7/10) – Everyone at the stadium saw his glancing header in the back of the net midway through the second half, only to see it fly a whisker wide of the far post. The veteran midfielder rewound the clock to ensure his side gain a foothold in the final.

Santiago Hezze (6/10) – Despite showing discipline at the back, the playmaker failed to do his prime task and provide a spark in the midfield.

Kostas Fortounis (5/10) – After a relatively sluggish start to the game, the Olympiacos captain grew into the contest. But he wasn’t up to his high standard tonight.

Chiquniho (6/10) – His set-piece deliveries were often on the money. That doesn’t change the fact he had virtually nothing to offer in open play.

Daniel Podence (7/10) – The diminutive forward was undoubtedly the most determined Olympiacos player, coming close to beating Terracciano twice in the first half. However, he was lucky to get away without a second bookable offence.

Ayoub El Kaabi (7/10) *MOTM* – When you enter the final as the most prolific marksman in European competitions this season, it’s only natural to assume you’d embrace the spotlight. The Moroccan striker did quite the opposite until he handed Olympiacos their first European title.


Stevan Jovetic – 7/10

Andre Horta – 6/10

Quini – 5/10

Georgios Masouras – 6/10

Youssef El Arabi – N/A

Fiorentina (4-2-3-1)

Pietro Terracciano (7/10) – Since Podence called him into action early on, the experienced keeper didn’t have much to do for the rest of the match.

Dodo (7/10) – Apart from a few cynical challenges, the Brazilian full-back held his ground against Podence and occasionally tried to burst forward, albeit with no end product.

Nikola Milenkovic (9/10) – Often criticised for his form amplitudes, the Serbian centre-back delivered arguably his best performance this season, making light work of El Kaabi.

Lucas Martinez Quarta (8/10) – It would’ve been a spotless showing from the Argentine defender had he avoided picking up a needless yellow card towards the end of the first half.

Cristiano Biraghi (7/10) – Seeing his early opener disallowed took some wind out of the Fiorentina skipper’s sails as none of his trademark runs down the left produced any goods.

Arthur Melo (6/10) – Tonight’s display probably best explains La Viola’s decision not to exercise a buyout clause in the loan deal with Juventus. Italiano could’ve subbed him off sooner.

Rolando Mandragora (6/10) – Far more aggressive than his midfield colleague, the Italian wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty but had nothing to contribute in the front third.

Nicolas Gonzalez (4/10) – He was supposed to be Italiano’s talismanic figure in Athens. Perhaps the occasion got the better of him.

Giacomo Bonaventura (7/10) – Unlike most of his clubmates, the 34-year-old showed quality and ambition. Unfortunately, his final touch often let him down.

Christian Kouame (5/10) – It’s unfathomable how he fumbled that glorious chance in the second half. That’s unforgivable in a clash of this magnitude.

Andrea Belotti (3/10) – Italiano’s decision to play the ex-Roma striker ahead of Lucas Beltran backfired epically. Cut off from the rest of the pack, he had a frustrating evening.


M’Bala Nzola – 4/10

Alfred Duncan – 6/10

Jonathan Ikone – 6/10

Antonin Barak – 4/10

Lucas Beltran – 3/10

Luca Ranieri – 1/10

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