Arsenal fans’ Europa League misery in Baku
Gunners' long-distance final ends in 4-1 defeat against Chelsea
29 May, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
Unai Emery: ‘We tried to stay in the match but their second goal made it difficult for us’
Europa League Final
CHELSEA 4 (Giroud 49, Pedro 60, Hazard pen 65, 72)
ARSENAL 1 (Iwobi 69)
TRAVELLING Arsenal fans were left facing a long journey home in dejection after seeing their side concede an avalanche of second-half goals in Azerbaijan last night (Wednesday).
The Gunners lost their Europa League final against London rivals Chelsea 4-1 in Baku.
It means there is no fairytale finish to Unai Emery’s first season in charge, and, more importantly, no silverware and no return to Champions League football next season.
After the game former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said he feared for his old club, and singled out Mesut Ozil for being too quiet on a big night.
“You look at Unai Emery and he has inherited a lot of problems,” he said. “I don’t think he will turn his back on the club now, but it hurts to not be in the Champions League for a third year in a row. It’s not good enough.
“It would be wrong for me to criticise Ozil but Arsenal had him in midfield and Chelsea had Eden Hazard.”
Former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud returned to haunt his old club minutes into the second half when he stooped to head home Emerson’s cross. It was a goal that ensured the French forward finished as the top-scorer in the Europa League.
Hazard then set up Pedro on the hour mark for a clinical second, before capping a man-of-the-match performance with two goals.
First the Belgian international scored from the spot after Ainsley Maitland-Niles barged Giroud over in the box, then he calmly placed Giroud’s pass beyond Petr Cech from close range after finding space in the area. Hazard admitted afterwards that it was “a farewell” appearance – and what a way to say goodbye to the Chelsea.
Sandwiched in between Hazard’s brace was arguably the goal of the game. Substitute Alex Iwobi nonchalantly drove a dipping shot into the back of the net from all of 20 yards.
It was a great goal, but not enough to appease the Arsenal fans who made a 5,000-mile round trip in the hope of seeing their team clinch their first European cup in two-and-a-half decades.
The real extent of the defeat for those supporters won’t be known until Saturday. If Spurs lose their Champions League final against Liverpool, then being beaten by Chelsea suddenly won’t seem so bad.
Despite seeing his side edge the first half, Emery admitted that by the time the final whistle went the best team won.
“Congratulations to Chelsea, they deserved to win,” he said.
“We played well in the first half, we created chances and the game was going as we thought it would.
“The first goal changed the game. We tried to stay in the match but their second goal made it difficult for us. It was going better for them and when we wanted to do something, we couldn’t find what we needed to score.”
CHELSEA: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic (Barkley, 76), Pedro (Willian, 71), Hazard (Zappacosta, 89), Giroud.
Substitutes not used: Caballero, Cumming, Alonso, Higuain, Zappacosta, Cahill, Ampadu, Gallagher, McEachran.
ARSENAL: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal (Guendouzi, 66), Kolasinac, Torreira (Iwobi, 66), Xhaka, Ozil (Willock, 78), Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Substitutes not used: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Jenkinson, El Neny, Saka, Iliev, Nketiah, Welbeck.