Eden Hazard scores twice as Chelsea sweep aside Arsenal in Europa League final in Baku

Chelsea players celebrate a goal during the UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal FC at Baku Olympic Stadium, Azerbaijian. (AFP)
Updated 30 May 2019

Eden Hazard scores twice as Chelsea sweep aside Arsenal in Europa League final in Baku

  • Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock just after half-time before Pedro Rodriguez doubled Chelsea’s lead
  • Eden Hazard converted a penalty to make it 3-0 and then wrapped up victory with his second goal following a fine consolation strike by Alex Iwobi

BAKU: Eden Hazard scored twice in what could be his farewell appearance as Chelsea swept away Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku, winning 4-1 to hand Maurizio Sarri his first major trophy as a coach.
This match started at 11pm local time on Wednesday in Azerbaijan, but it was Thursday by the time it came to life with a flood of second-half goals started by Olivier Giroud’s 49th-minute opener against his old club.
Hazard then set up Pedro Rodriguez for Chelsea’s second before grabbing a brace of his own — including a penalty — either side of Alex Iwobi’s reply for Arsenal.
The Belgian has been tipped to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid after seven years in England, and if this is to be Hazard’s swansong it was the perfect way to go.
It is his, and Chelsea’s, second Europa League this decade and comes after they finished third in the Premier League to secure their return to the Champions League next season.
There will be no return to Europe’s top table for Arsenal. Unai Emery’s side had to win here to qualify for the Champions League but they were just not good enough on a bizarre night in Azerbaijan’s capital.
Emery was hoping to win this competition for the fourth time. He will get another chance next season, but for now Arsenal’s 25-year wait to bring back a European trophy to north London goes on.
Chelsea will remember their evening with fondness, as will Sarri, who 24 hours earlier had stolen the headlines when he angrily stormed off the pitch here during a training session in front of the television cameras.
The few Chelsea supporters who came will not forget their night either, but the fact there were reportedly only around 1,300 in Azerbaijan will be a source of regret to those at Stamford Bridge.
UEFA’s decision to play the game here had been heavily criticized, with the difficulty and cost of coming to the shores of the Caspian Sea preventing many fans from traveling and meaning Arsenal’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was controversially absent.
Azerbaijan’s strongman President Ilham Aliyev was in the crowd, but there were thousands of empty seats in the Baku Olympic Stadium, a ground which holds almost 70,000,
That meant that, far away from the blood and thunder of a typical derby fixture between these two London clubs, this had the feel of an end-of-season exhibition match on a foreign tour, for much of the first half at least.
The players seemed to be short of their usual rhythm in a match played two and a half weeks after the Premier League season ended.
It came to life though, with an early moment of controversy when Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi dismissed Arsenal appeals for a penalty as Alexandre Lacazette went down under a challenge from Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Granit Xhaka then saw his powerful strike from 25 yards graze the crossbar on its way over as the half-hour mark approached.
Only after that did Chelsea come to life, but Petr Cech — facing his old side in his final match before retiring — blocked an Emerson Palmieri shot and then denied Giroud at the end of a fine move.
However, as the clock ticked past midnight after a goalless first half, Chelsea went ahead when Giroud stole in front of Laurent Koscielny and stooped to head Emerson’s ball in from the left past Cech.
It was his 11th goal in this season’s competition, and there was to be no comeback from Arsenal, with Chelsea quickly putting this final beyond their opponents’ reach as Hazard took over.
He set up Pedro for a clipped finish low beyond Cech and into the far corner on the hour mark, and five minutes later Hazard calmly rolled in a penalty awarded after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had barged into Giroud.
Substitute Iwobi’s sublime reply soon followed, but Arsenal had left themselves with too much to do, and Giroud and Hazard then combined brilliantly for the Belgian to get his second and Chelsea’s fourth in the 72nd minute.


German regional clubs probed after players mimic Turkish military salute

Updated 16 October 2019

German regional clubs probed after players mimic Turkish military salute

  • Three teams in the Recklinghausen district, near Gelsenkirchen, will face a disciplinary committee after pictures posted on social media
  • The military gesture has become a hot topic after Turkey players saluted to celebrate goals during Euro 2020 qualifiers against France and Albania

BERLIN: At least five German regional football teams face disciplinary action after their players imitated the military salute performed by the Turkish national team during matches last weekend.
Germany has a Turkish population of around 2.5 million people and three teams in the Recklinghausen district, near Gelsenkirchen, will face a disciplinary committee after pictures posted on social media showed their players made the controversial salute to celebrate goals.
“In one case it was the whole team, in another case, it was five or six players,” Hans-Otto Matthey, the district chairman of the Westphalia Football and Athletics Association (FLVW), told AFP subsidiary SID.
Matthey hopes making the clubs accountable will discourage others in the region, which has a sizeable Turkish community, against repeating the gesture in this weekend’s matches.
“I predict that nobody else will have the nerve to repeat something like this,” he added.
There were also two further cases of teams in Bavaria making the salute. Both clubs are also set to face disciplinary measures.
The military gesture has become a hot topic after Turkey players saluted to celebrate goals during Euro 2020 qualifiers against France in Paris on Monday and on Friday against Albania.
The salute is seen as a reference to Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, which has been condemned by both France and Germany.
Turkey’s sports minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu has described the controversial gesture as a “nice salute,” but European football’s ruling body UEFA is investigating the national team for the “potential provocative political behavior” of its players.
After the isolated incidents of saluting in Germany’s lower leagues, several regional governing bodies have taken a clear stance.
Both the Bavarian (BFV) and North German Football Associations (NFV) have warned players in their areas to expect “heavy penalties” for imitating the military salute, with other the associations in Berlin and Wurttemberg following suit.
“Insults and provocations have no place on or off the pitch and will not be tolerated,” an NFV football official told SID.
The German Football Association (DFB) took a similar stance last weekend.
Germany internationals Emre Can and Ilkay Gundogan, who have Turkish roots, apologized on Sunday after they both clicked ‘Like’ on a picture of the Turkish footballers saluting during Friday’s 1-0 win over Albania, which they later removed.
“We are against all forms of violence and discrimination,” said national team director Oliver Bierhoff.