The Belgian Forward, Eden Hazard scored twice in what seems to be potentially his final game for Chelsea to help secure a 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku and end the Gunners’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Following a lacklustre first half, Olivier Giroud headed in the opener against his former side in the 49th minute before Pedro swept in from Hazard’s cross on the hour mark.
Hazard – who is wanted by Real Madrid and said immediately after the match he thinks this is “goodbye” – added a third from the penalty spot and then netted the fourth in the 72nd minute after Alex Iwobi had pulled a goal back for Arsenal with a fine long-range strike.
Defeat means Arsenal will play in the Europa League for a third season in a row.
Chelsea finish Maurizio Sarri’s first season with silverware and attentions will now turn to the futures of Hazard and Sarri, who is a reported target for Juventus.
Much of the talk ahead of the match had surrounded travel difficulties for fans of both London sides and a drab first half did little to improve the atmosphere at the Baku Olympic Stadium, which was far from full.
Aubameyang spurned the best chance in a low-key start, driving a shot wide from inside the box after a poor punch at the near post from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Arsenal also had a penalty appeal turned away by the Video Assistant Referee when Alexandre Lacazette appeared to be taken down by Arrizabalaga after prodding the ball past the goalkeeper.
Pedro netted Chelsea’s second goal
With Chelsea struggling to build any momentum, Granit Xhaka clipped the top of the bar with a powerful strike from 20 yards out.
However, Chelsea improved in the latter stages of the first half as Emerson Palmieri forced Petr Cech to push away a shot in the 34th minute and Giroud then forced Cech into an excellent one-handed save when he shot towards the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
It was Giroud who broke the deadlock after half-time when he expertly headed in from Emerson’s cross to score his 11th goal in this season’s Europa League – the most in the competition.
Olivier Giroud finished as the top scorer in the Europa League with 11 goals
Chelsea then seized control of the game with two goals in quick succession.
Pedro scored a second on the hour mark when he swept in from Hazard’s cross before Giroud was barged in the back by Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the box and Hazard converted the penalty.
Substitute Alex Iwobi pulled a goal back with a superb strike from outside the box in the 69th minute, only for Giroud to set up Hazard to restore the three-goal lead shortly afterwards.
Cech saved from Hazard and substitute Willian, before Arrizabalaga denied Lacazette at the other end and then Joe Willock curled wide from an excellent position as any slim hopes of an Arsenal comeback faded away.
Man of the match – Eden Hazard
If this is his final match for Chelsea then it was the perfect way to bow out. Hazard played a key role as Chelsea seized control of the game in the second half. He set up the second for Pedro before scoring from the penalty spot and then combining with Olivier Giroud to net again. He will be sorely missed by Chelsea if he leaves this summer.
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