Chelsea Defeat Arsenal To Give Sarri’s First Managerial Trophy
Chelsea Fc overcame their London rivals to lift their second Europa League crown, with a brace from the talisman Eden Hazard at the Olympic stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday night.
This is the first managerial trophy to be won by the Chelsea coach, Mauricio Sarri.
In an all-England final which featured only one English player, Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, in the starting line-up, it was Chelsea’s Belgian import, Eden Hazard, who shone the brightest to give the Blues a major trophy to celebrate at the end of a chaotic season.
Sarri, surprised his opponent, deploying a 4-3-3 set-up and starting Emerson Palmieri ahead of Marcos Alonso in defence.
It was a scrappy and dull opening to the final, with Arsenal providing the notable actions of the first 20 minutes through their dangerous duo.
Aubameyang blazed wide from inside the area following a half-cleared Ozil cross, while Lacazette’s dubious attempt at winning a penalty was foiled by Italian referee, Gianluca Rocchi.
With Chelsea all at sea in defence, Gunners came closer to the opener, with the midfielder, Granit Xhaka’s long-range shot grazing the bar, while Saed Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also going close.
Chelsea, led by Eden Hazard, however, sprang into life towards the end of the half, with a full back, Emerson’s shot stopped by Petr Cech, while the retiring Arsenal ‘keeper made a better save minutes later.
A lovely one-touch passing move culminated in the striker, Olivier Giroud, presented with the best opportunity of the half and the former Arsenal striker was brilliantly denied by former Chelsea ‘keeper, Cech, who got down quickly to divert the Frenchman’s low drive away from goal.
Chelsea picked off were the left before the interval and took the lead through Giroud with a trademark header. The 33-year old striker evaded the attention of skipper, Laurient Koscielny to meet Emerson’s low cross with a diving header which left Cech with no chance, giving Chelsea a 1-0 lead on 49 minutes.
It was 2-0 on the hour mark through Spanish winger Pedro. The former Barcelona player was on hand to redirect Hazard’s cut-back into the far corner with a stabbed shot, leaving Cech with no chance.
The Chelsea fans were soon in celebration mode five minutes later when Hazard, a quiet assassin on the night, scored the third goal from the penalty spot after Giroud was brought down by Maitland-Niles after Hazard- again- carved the Gunners open.
Alex Iwobi, who has had his best performances this season in the Europa League came in afterward and scored a stunning volley to reduce the deficit with his second Europa League goal.
Chelsea restored their three-goal advantage on 72 minutes through talisman, Hazard, the Belgian wizard slamming home after exchanging passes with the intelligent Giroud in a move he started after Arsenal were robbed of the ball deep in their half.