Chelsea defeats Arsenal 4-1 to win Europa League
Eden Hazard scored twice in what was likely his last match for Chelsea to fire his team to a 4-1 victory over Arsenal in an all-English Europa League final in Baku on Wednesday.
In perhaps his final appearance before a mooted move to Real Madrid, star man Hazard struck two second-half goals to confirm Chelsea’s second triumph in six seasons in this competition.
Olivier Giroud sparked the landslide against his former employers in the 49th minute before Pedro put a second past retiring Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Alex Iwobi pulled one back in between Hazard’s double but Arsenal faded horribly after half-time and, having finished fifth in the Premier League, are now consigned to another season outside the Champions League.
Kepa Arrizabalaga exuded nerves early with a poor punch and was fortunate that referee Gianluca Rocchi overlooked a slight touch on Alexandre Lacazette when the forward went to ground in the 18th minute.
Cech, Chelsea’s keeper in their 2013 success, appeared a picture of calm at the other end.
The 37-year-old parried an Emerson Palmieri shot and then brilliantly clawed away Giroud’s angled effort.
He could do little to stop the striker a second time, however, with World Cup winner Giroud stooping to nod in Emerson’s cross from the left.
Chelsea’s talismanic Belgian made no mistake from the resultant spot-kick, although substitute Iwobi momentarily gives Unai Emery’s men a glimmer of hope courtesy of a thunderous volley.
But the ex-Sevilla coach’s bid for a fourth Europa League crown was shattered within three minutes, Hazard capping off a classy combination with the tournament’s top scorer Giroud to completing the humiliation.