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NYON: Olympiacos’ players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Youth League final fooball match between Olympiacos and AC Milan at Colovray Sport Center in Nyon. – AFP
NYON: Olympiacos’ players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Youth League final fooball match between Olympiacos and AC Milan at Colovray Sport Center in Nyon. – AFP
Olympiakos down AC Milan to win UEFA Youth League final
‘A historic achievement because we are the first Greek club winning a European title’

NYON: Olympiakos beat AC Milan 3-0 in the UEFA Youth League final on Monday, with victory in Europe’s under-19 football competition making them the first Greek club to win a UEFA title. Three second-half goals in quick succession secured the continent’s top youth trophy for the Piraeus club.

Christos Mouzakitis scored a penalty in the 60th minute, with Antonios Papakanellos doubling the lead a minute later before Theofanis Bakoulas sealed it with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 66th minute. “That goal, I haven’t seen it in my biggest dreams. I’ve scored in a final and it’s really a big moment,” Bakoulas told AFP.

“I’m a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo. A couple of days ago in training here in Nyon I tried to do a similar bicycle kick and it went to the sky and this time as soon as I hit it I knew it was going in,” the central midfielder said.

The competition’s semi-finals and final are played at the UEFA-run Colovray Stadium in Nyon, western Switzerland, opposite the headquarters of European football’s governing body. The Lennart Johansson Trophy is named after the late Swedish football administrator who ran UEFA from 1990 to 2007.

Olympiakos knocked out Lecce, Inter Milan, Lens, Bayern Munich and Nantes on their path to the final. “It’s a historic achievement because we are the first Greek club winning a European title,” coach Sotirios Sylaidopoulos told AFP. “It’s grows us as people, as a club, develops the players and the confidence they must have in the future. “To be playing in such competitive games, that can help them adapt faster in situations they’re going to face when they are in the first team.

“It’s a good chance now to put more light on Greek football because if you see all the games, we deserve 100 percent to be the European champions. “It shows that Greek football can expect things from this generation.”

Quickfire scoring spree

First held in the 2013-14 season, Barcelona and Chelsea have won the Youth League twice, while Real Madrid, Benfica, Porto, Salzburg and AZ Alkmaar have also lifted the trophy. The competition aims to develop European youth football at club level, reducing the gap between sides’ youth and first teams by offering international matches and experience. Sixty-four teams take part: the youth teams of the 32 clubs in the Champions League group stage, plus the remaining top 32 domestic youth champions.

Despite the chilly wind, both sides were backed by vocal sets of supporters on the open grass terrace along the Lake Geneva side of the stadium. Former Portugal and Real Madrid star Luis Figo was in the main stand.

Olympiakos took a stranglehold on the tie in quick fashion in the second half. A handball in the penalty box was spotted after a VAR check. Central midfielder Mouzakitis scored the penalty low to the right, evading Milan goalkeeper Noah Raveyre’s dive.

Attacking midfielder Papakanellos then surged into the box down the right hand side before shooting across Raveyre to score. The stunning volley from Bakoulas then broke Italian hearts and set Olympiakos on their way to the title. - AFP

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