Eden Hazard grabbed a brace to help Chelsea towards a commanding Europa League win against Arsenal. However, the moment was bittersweet for Chelsea fans with the Belgian now expected to join Real Madrid.
Chelsea’s talisman proved too tough to handle for an Arsenal defence that simply capitulated, conceding three goals in twelve minutes, as Unai Emery’s miraculous record in the Europa League went up in smoke. But this was Chelsea’s night to savour. Maurizio Sarri now has his first managerial trophy and, whatever his future holds, that will mean so much to him. Quite a contrast to Emery who will face another season of Europa League football.
Second-Half Blitz Propels Chelsea to Europa League Glory
Early Promise for Arsenal
It wasn’t all gloomy for Arsenal to begin with. Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were getting in behind Chelsea’s defence and their deliveries caused a few problems for Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, it was Chelsea that managed to create better opportunities.
Petr Cech demonstrated that class is permanent by making two fine saves to prevent Emerson and Olivier Giroud from breaking the deadlock. The ‘keeper was playing his final game as a professional footballer but he couldn’t stop his former team after the interval.
Chelsea Take Control
Emerson delivered a ball into the box and Giroud reacted brilliantly to get to it ahead of Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman stooped low to divert a header past Cech at his near post. It was a quick start to the second-half by Chelsea.
Arsenal tried to find a response but struggled to create anything of note. Pedro made them pay.
Mateo Kovacic did brilliantly to patiently hold the ball up. The Croatian drew Sokratis Papastathopoulos out which opened up the space for Hazard. The Belgian quickly found Pedro and the Spaniard coolly slid the ball into the far corner to double Chelsea’s advantage. The goals didn’t stop there.
Maitland-Niles clumsily bundled Giroud to the ground and the referee, Gianluca Rocchi, had no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Hazard, as expected, calmly slotted home.
Alex Iwobi did muster some hope for the Gunners. The substitute thundered a bouncing ball into the top corner from 25-yards, just minutes after coming on. It may not count for much but his stunning strike was comfortably the goal of the night.
Eden for the Trophy
Any chance of an Arsenal comeback was quickly dashed, however, as Hazard got his second. He turned Giroud’s delicate flick past Cech, from point-blank range, to seal the victory for his team.
Arsenal had a strong end to the match but just couldn’t get a goal. They huffed and they puffed but they just couldn’t take their chances when they came.
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