Eden Hazard inspires Chelsea to win Europa League as they thrash sorry Arsenal

Eden Hazard inspires Chelsea to win Europa League as they thrash sorry Arsenal
Chelsea 4 – 1 Arsenal
29/05/2019 20:00
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi|Venue: Baku Olympic Stadium|Attendance: 51,370
  • Olivier Giroud49
  • Pedro60
  • Eden Hazard65
  • Eden Hazard72
  • Alex Iwobi69


Only at Chelsea could a season of such relentless turmoil, under a manager who is so loathed by so many of their supporters, culminate with a European title and a wonderful collective performance that suggests the future might well be bright after all.

This truly was the embodiment of the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea, a club who swing from chaos to celebration with all the ease of Eden Hazard drifting past a desperate full-back.

For those who are keeping count, the Europa League of 2019 is title No 16 since the Russian money flowed into Stamford Bridge in 2003. A title per year for 16 years, and the emphatic nature of the victory will ensure it remains firmly entrenched in the Chelsea memory along with the best of the others.

So, too, will Hazard, whose two goals and assist ensured that the Baku final will forever be known as his final. As a farewell, it could hardly have been more spectacular.

“I think it’s a goodbye,” he said within minutes of the final whistle. “Maybe it’s time for a new ­challenge.”

Will it also be goodbye to Maurizio Sarri? A first title in management, coupled with a third-place finish in the Premier League, will reinforce the Italian’s belief that his season has been a success.

Perhaps those Chelsea fans who turned against him might now find themselves wheeling round and hoping that he resists the allure of Juventus.

Sarri’s joy at the final whistle contrasted with the anguish that swept across the face of Unai Emery, standing motionless on the touchline as Chelsea’s players sunk to their knees in celebration.

Arsenal knew that a win, and a subsequent return to the Champions League, would provide clarity over their long-term future. With defeat comes clouds of doubt and concern that the gap between Emery’s side and Europe’s premier competition may only grow bigger.

The ease with which they were undone by Olivier Giroud for the opening goal will grate on Emery’s mind all summer.

Arsenal’s subsequent disintegration, conceding three more times in 12 brutal second-half minutes, brought to mind all the accusations of flimsiness that Emery has so frantically tried to scrub away.

The unwelcome truth for Arsenal had set in long before Chelsea had lifted the trophy. They have failed to achieve their primary objective this season, falling short at the definitive end of the Premier League season and the final step of this Europa League campaign.

Arsenal had known well the ­importance of this, arguably their most significant match in a decade, but they crumpled at the precise moment at which they needed to stand tall.

It spoke volumes for the difference between the two teams that, as Hazard sauntered around ­upfield, Arsenal’s own No 10 faded further in the background.

Mesut Ozil’s substitution for young Joe Willock, a 19-year-old who has played one senior match since February, told its own tale of the German’s night.

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