Chelsea wins 2019 UEFA Europa League Final

A soccer ball
Image from Pixabay.

In this battle of teams based in London, Chelsea was able to defeat Arsenal 4-1 to win the UEFA Europa League Final Wednesday evening at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.  This victory was the first European trophy for Chelsea since the English club won the Europa League back in 2013.

Slow first half

Surprisingly, neither team scored a goal in the first half.  Arsenal had more chances to score in the first half.  After both teams were feeling each other out, Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a shot wide left from about 8 yards out in the eighth minute.  Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka hit a goal off of the crossbar in the 28th minute that would have been impossible to stop from 20 yards out.

A soccer ball
Image from Pixabay.

Former Arsenal player scores first

After halftime, Chelsea really started to get going.  Four minutes after intermission, Chelsea defender Emerson sent a pass into the penalty area to striker Olivier Giroud, who was able to head the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.  Ironically, Giroud used to play for Arsenal and Cech used to play for Chelsea previously in their respective careers.  Out of respect for his former club, Giroud did not celebrate the goal.

Deja vu

Chelsea was able to add to the lead in the 60th minute when Pedro also scored from about eight yards out from almost the same spot where Giroud scored off a pass from Eden Hazard.  Chelsea was able to take advantage of Arsenal’s defense again by finding the same soft spot in the penalty area.

Eden’s paradise

Five minutes later, Giroud was attempting to score again, but was tripped up in front of goal.  As a result, Chelsea was awarded a penalty kick.  Soccer superstar Eden Hazard put the penalty kick away to give Chelsea a commanding 3-0 lead.

Amazing shot by Iwobi

However, Arsenal showed that they did not quit when midfielder Alex Iwobi scored four minutes later.  The goal was an absolute screamer from twenty yards out.  He kicked the ball from the right side of the goal all the way into the top corner of the left-hand side.  This goal gave Arsenal some hope by bringing the score back to 3-1 with about 20 minutes left to go in the match.

Chelsea was able to put the icing on the cake three minutes later when Hazard scored on a give-and-go with Giroud to put the game out of reach at 4-1.

Both teams will have to answer some questions this offseason.  Although Chelsea qualified for the Champions League next season, Hazard is more than likely set to go to Real Madrid.  Chelsea will be looking to fill the void with the signing of Christian Pulisic, but the team will have to sign another attacking midfielder.  Arsenal would have qualified for the Champions League with a victory today, but the loss sends the club back to the Europa League next season.  This loss means that they will not be able to sign the top-level free agents they were hoping to lure to their club.

Here are the starting lineups from the match.  Chelsea went with a 4-3-3 attack while Arsenal went with a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Chelsea – Goalkeeper:  Kepa.  Defenders:  Emerson, David Luiz, Azpilicueta, Christensen.  Midfielders:  Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante.  Forwards:  Hazard, Pedro, Giroud.

Arsenal – Goalkeeper:  Cech.  Defenders:  Nacho Monreal, Sokratis, Koscielny.  Midfielders:  Ozil, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Maitland-Niles.  Forwards:  Aubameyang, Lacazette.