Chelsea face Arsenal in all-English final in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29th May
Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties to set up an all-English UEFA Europa League final against London rivals Arsenal
after the two sides were locked together 2-2 on aggregate following extra time on Thursday night.
The result at Stamford Bridge – along with Arsenal’s impressive 4-2 victory away to Valencia at the Mestalla – means that both the Champions League (between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool) and Europa League finals will be played between English clubs this season – the first time all four finalists in Europe’s top two competitions have come from one nation.
With the score 1-1 after the first-leg, Chelsea took lead in the second-leg when Ruben Loftus-Cheek coolly stroked into the far corner (28) after after a brilliant bit of skill from Eden Hazard, who had the awareness to pick out the England midfielder.
Loftus-Cheek’s goal was his 10th of the season, four of which have come in this competition, with Hazard’s assist being the 37th goal contribution of the Belgian captain’s this season.
However, the in-form Serbian striker Luka Jović drew the Bundesliga side level four minutes into the second half (49), slotting past Kepa Arrizabalaga with his 27th strike of the campaign, which led to a tense remaining 40 minutes of normal time.
In extra-time, the Germans twice had efforts cleared off the line with David Luiz first denying Sébastien Haller and then Davide Zappacosta clearing Haller again at a corner.
Chelsea thought they had won it late in extra-time but César Azpilicueta, who later missed first in the penalty shootout, had a goal ruled out when Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan deemed he had bundled the ball out of Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp’s hands.
After Azpilicueta missed first, Arrizabalaga remarkably kept out Eintracht’s fourth & fifth penalties, firstly by trapping the ball under his shin as he stood still when Martin Hinteregger went for power and then diving low to his right to palm away Gonçalo Paciência’s weak effort.
This led to Hazard – who could have played his final game at Stamford Bridge – to convert the winning penalty and send Maurizio Sarri’s side through to the final to set up an all-English match against Premier League rivals Arsenal at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29th May.
Possession (%) – Chelsea 60%, Frankfurt 40%
Shots – Chelsea 16, Frankfurt 14
Shots on Target – Chelsea 7, Frankfurt 6
Corners – Chelsea 10, Frankfurt 9
Fouls – Chelsea 19, Frankfurt 25
Offsides – Chelsea 1, Frankfurt 4
Yellow/Red Cards – Chelsea 3/0, Frankfurt 4/0
(Bonus Stat) Not one, not two but a trio of stats!
• Chelsea won their first penalty shootout in European competition since beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final.
• Chelsea have never lost a home game against German opponents in all competitions (W7 D3).
• This is the first time that all four places in the Champions League/European Cup and Europa League/UEFA Cup finals will be filled by one country (England).
• Nervous start to the first-half but grew into the game and deserved the half-time lead.
• As for the second half though, very shaky. No team cohesion and surprised Frankfurt did not capitalise on our errors and mistakes.
• Loftus-Cheek started off brilliantly but faded rapidly in the second-half. Hopefully his back issues become a distant memory soon.
• Thankfully David Luiz made up for awful lapse of concentration which led to Frankfurt’s equaliser with his heroic goal-line clearance in extra time.
• Jorginho was imperious. His form has been nothing short of superb lately and is easily our most in-form player right now.
• Kepa Arrizabalaga’s £71.6m transfer fee is already turning out to be a bargain.
• Eden Hazard scoring the winning penalty in potentially his last ever game at Stamford Bridge… the perfect ending.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Kepa – 9
Azpilicueta – 7
Christensen – 6
David Luiz – 7
Emerson – 7
Kovačić – 7
Jorginho – 9, MOTM. Simply put… Jorginho was imperious.
Loftus-Cheek – 7
Willian – 6
Giroud – 6
Hazard – 7
Pedro (62′ for Willian) – 7
Zappacosta (73′ for Christensen) – 7
Barkley (86′ for Loftus-Cheek) – 6
Higuaín (96′ for Giroud) – 6
Maurizio Sarri – 8