Olympiacos win Europa Conference League after ET

Setting off wild celebrations in Athens, Olympiacos have won Greece's first European club title by beating Fiorentina 1-0 with a goal in extra time of the Europa Conference League final.

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 Morocco striker – who finished as the competition's top scorer – struck in the 116th minute of the match and dropped to his knees as he waited to see if the goal would stand after he had met a cross from Santiago Hezze.

The header decided a game that had looked destined for a penalty shootout following an energetic but largely risk-free encounter at AEK Arena, and condemned Fiorentina and their coach Vincenzo Italiano to a second straight defeat in the competition's final after losing last year to West Ham United.

"We created chances and had the opportunity to lift the cup but unfortunately it didn't happy – I'm sorry," Italiano said.

"In Europe it's not an easy thing to get this far and lose."

Olympiacos, the club from the port city of Piraeus, near the capital, became only the second Greek club to reach a European final, 53 years after Panathinaikos lost the Champions Cup decider in 1971 against Johan Cruyff's Ajax Amsterdam.

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

"It's an honour to have made all these people happy, I feel immense joy and happiness to have made people feel this way and I dedicate it to them," the Spaniard said.

"We have achieved something that our club has never achieved before. We will celebrate it and celebrate it the way we should. Then we will start working on what comes next."

Celebrating Olympiacos players.
Olympiacos players celebrate with the trophy after beating Fiorentina. (AP PHOTO)

The third-tier European club competition took place amid a massive security operation, with some 5000 police officers forming concentric cordons around a northern area of Athens – amid Europe-wide security concerns this summer for major sporting events including the Paris Olympics and European soccer championship in Germany.

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 defence.

Olympiacos players celebrated with 15,000 fans after the game, some holding their young children as golden confetti was fired into the air around the awards podium.

"It's the best emotion I've felt so far in my career," defender Panagiotis Retsos said.

"I've had a lot of ups-and-downs but I'm very, very happy to be here."

With AP.