Olympiakos reach Conference League final after beating Aston Villa

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Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League run ended at the semi-final stage as opponents Olympiakos set up a final with Fiorentina.

Having lost the first leg 4-2, Villa fell to a 2-0 defeat in Greece to lose their tie 6-2 on aggregate.

Unai Emery’s side dominated possession but lacked composure in the final third.

And El Kaabi benefitted from a tight offside call to double his tally with eight minutes remaining by latching on to a long pass forward and burying a shot beyond Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Villa were hoping to reach their first European final since Tony Barton’s team won the European Cup in 1982.

Instead, Olympiakos will play in their first European final at the home of rivals AEK Athens on 29 May against Italian side Fiorentina.

Ghana midfielder, Alfred Duncan to play in 2024 Europa Conference League final

And there will be no English club in a European final for the first time in four seasons.

Villa’s 28-year trophy wait goes on

The damage had already been done seven days earlier at Villa Park when competition favourites Villa were stunned by Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side.

In Athens, the Premier League outfit started on the front foot but were caught out on the counter-attack as Olympiakos went into a three-goal lead in the tie with their first attack of the night.

Villa controlled things for the rest of the half but rarely threatened until just before the break when Greek keeper Konstantinos Tzolakis tipped over Leon Bailey’s effort from range.

Jhon Duran also had a shot saved after the restart and Ollie Watkins had a header kept out in the final stages on a disappointing night for the Villains.

Villa could still end their season on a positive note. They need just three points from their final two Premier League games to ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

But the club’s wait for a first major trophy since the 1996 League Cup, and a first European title in 42 years, continues.

Olympiakos defy odds in European run

Despite winning a record 47 Greek league titles, before this season Olympiakos had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of a Uefa competition.

The Athens side are on a remarkable run, having been 4-1 down to Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last 16 before advancing after extra time and needing a penalty shootout to beat Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the last eight.

Spaniard Mendilibar is their fourth head coach of the season and has only been in the post since February.

They became the first Greek side to reach a European final since Panathinaikos, who were beaten by Ajax in the 1971 European Cup final at Wembley.

‘The idea of seeing a Greek club in the final is unthinkable’

This is history. This is destiny. I’m a Greek football fan, I don’t get to watch moments like this very often. I have Euro 2004 and now I have this one.

The idea of seeing a Greek club in the final of a major European competition is unthinkable, if anyone said that in the middle of the season they’d think you’re insane.

Olympiakos signed 16 players in the summer, four of them have been dropped, two of them have been sent out on loan. They then bought eight more in January, and only three of them are in the European squad list.

Now they are going to a final. To many people they are the favourites now.

Olympiakos have been trying to do this since 2010 when owner Evangelos Marinakis took over.

This has been in the works for many, many years.


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