A second half blitz, led by Eden Hazard, saw Chelsea beat London rivals Arsenal 4-1 to lift the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League trophy.
Chelsea lifted their second UEFA Europa League title, as they thrashed fellow London outfit Arsenal 4-1 in an all-English final at the Baku Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night.
The first half was a tightly contested affair, with not many chances coming either team’s way. Granit Xhaka brushed the crossbar with a long-range effort, while Emerson Palmieri and Olivier Giroud drew saves from Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal as both teams went into half-time with the scoreline 0-0.
Soon after the break though, Giroud broke the deadlock with a brilliant diving header from Emerson’s cross. Chelsea were up 2-0 in the 60th minute, when Eden Hazard found Pedro with a lovely pass and the Spaniard made no mistake with his first-time finish.
Five minutes later, the Belgian dispatched a nerveless penalty to make it 3-0 for Chelsea, after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had barged down Giroud inside the box. Substitute Alex Iwobi pulled one back for Arsenal soon after with a stunning half-volley, but Hazard killed the game off with his second goal of the night in the 72nd minute, after being fed by Giroud.
IT'S OURS! 🏆
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 29, 2019
With Hazard believed to be on his way to Real Madrid, it was the perfect way to bring an end to his time at Chelsea, helping manager Maurizio Sarri win the first-ever trophy of his career. And here’s how we rated the performances of the Blues’ players on the night;
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
The Spaniard looked nervy in the early stages of the game, flapping at a dangerous cross from Maitland-Niles and his clumsy challenge on Alexandre Lacazette. Improved with time and made a good save from Lacazette, although he had no chance of saving Iwobi’s goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
A solid and reliable display by the Chelsea skipper. Was never afraid to put his body on the line, which came in handy on a couple of occasions in the first period. Chose his moments well to go forward, kept things tight and organized at the back in what was a highly disciplined display.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
Playing arguably the biggest game of his career till date, the Chelsea academy graduate acquitted himself with a rock-solid display at the heart of the defence. A force in the air, strong in his challenges, Christensen read the situations well and did his best to frustrate Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Booked for a foul on Iwobi.
David Luiz: 7.5/10
The Brazilian had a few iffy moments in the first period, but grew with time and put in a calm and composed display to ensure Chelsea came out on top. Never really allowed Aubameyang any room to cause problems, while he used possession very smartly as well. Was the cause of frustration for Sarri prior to the match with his clash with Gonzalo Higuain, but the manager will have no complaints over his performance.
Emerson Palmieri: 7/10
Defensively wasn’t as tight as he needed to be early on, affording a lot of space for Maitland-Niles to run into. But was a constant outlet going forward and was very sharp in his attacking play. Tested Cech with a powerful drive in the first period, before putting in the cross for Giroud’s goal.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
The Frenchman was a huge injury doubt for the game with a knee problem, but having started on the night, it was business as usual for him. Showed no signs of the injury hampering him as he ran around with his usual purpose harrying the Arsenal midfield. Produced a vital block on a Lucas Torreira shot, used the ball intelligently and lasted the entire game, finishing as the player who covered the most distance. Tremendous.
Not the most influential player in the first period, but did produce a key block to prevent Maitland-Niles’ cross from entering into a dangerous area. Grew into the contest with time and started to exert more influence, stitching attacks with his use of possession, while remained solid in the defensive side of things as well.
Mateo Kovacic: 6.5/10
The Real Madrid loanee made a sluggish start but improved as the game wore on. Neat and tidy with the ball, Kovacic did well to retain possession in tight spaces and drive his team forward on a number of occasions. Not the most impactful displays, but did what was required of him before being subbed for Ross Barkley.
Picked ahead of Willian for the final, the Spaniard wasn’t able to do much of note for the entirety of the first period, although there was no lack of effort. Delivered when it mattered though, finishing brilliantly for Chelsea’s second goal, hitting Arsenal with the killer blow.
Olivier Giroud: 9/10
The Frenchman has been Chelsea’s main man in the Europa League this term and stood tall when his team needed to on the biggest occasion against his former employers. Forced Cech into a save in the first period, before opening the scoring after the break with a sensational driving header. Won the penalty for Hazard’s first and set the Belgian up for his second with a lovely ball over the top.
Eden Hazard: 9/10
In what could very well have been his last game for Chelsea, Eden Hazard ensured it was a memorable one for himself and the team. Was easily the most dangerous player on the field, despite not troubling the Arsenal defence a great deal in the first period. But stepped up in a huge way after the break, setting Pedro up for the second goal, before getting the final two goals himself.
Won the Europa League in his debut season with Chelsea and is set to leave for Real Madrid having led them to the trophy once again. A fitting farewell for the Belgian wing-wizard.
Replaced Pedro in the 71st minute. Caused the Arsenal backline problems with his pace and directness.
Ross Barkley: N/A
Came on for Kovacic with less than fifteen minutes left.
Davide Zappacosta: N/A
Late substitute for Hazard.