Chelsea have won the UEFA Europa League for the second time in six years by thrashing London rivals Arsenal 4-1 in the final in Baku.
A goalless first half was followed by a glut of goals in the second period as The Blues blew Unai Emery’s side away to leave them facing another trophyless campaign and UEFA Europa League football again next season.
It was Arsenal who could have been ahead in the opening minutes of the match when Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga flapped at an Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross but the so often reliable Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could only fire his effort wide.
The Gunners then had a shout for a penalty kick when Alexandre Lacazette went down after Arrizabalaga had come rushing off his line but no spot kick was given.
The closest which either side came to breaking the deadlock in the first half came on 28 minutes when Granit Xhaka took aim from 25 yards out. The Swiss international struck a stunning effort but the ball could only clip the top of the bar before going out of play.
Chelsea’s first real chance came just after the half hour mark when Emerson Palmieri hit a low effort which was pushed to safety by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech who was making his final appearance for The Gunners. The former Blues keeper was also on-hand to prevent Olivier Giroud from opening the scoring moments before the interval as the first half ended goalless.
Maurizio Sarri’s side carried their momentum into the second half and they took the lead four minutes in. The impressive Emerson put a cross into the box and Giroud directed the ball into the net with a trademark header.
It was soon 2-0 to The Blues when Eden Hazard played in Pedro to bundle the ball beyond Cech into the net, a scrappy goal from the Spaniard.
Arsenal’s self-destruction continued 20 minutes into the half when Giroud was fouled in the box and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Hazard stepped up and successfully converted from the spot.
A crazy second half then saw Arsenal pull a goal back through a stunning effort from Alex Iwobi before Giroud’s superb lobbed pass created a second goal for Hazard.
Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta threatened to add to The Blues’ sizeable advantage while Arrizabalaga did well to save a Lacazette effort at the other end.
Aubameyang had the final chance of the match but fired wide on a night which saw opponents Chelsea finish their season in style.