Chelsea beat Frankfurt on penalties to reach UEL final

Hazard has been strongly linked with a move away from Chelsea this summer
Hazard has been strongly linked with a move away from Chelsea this summer

Eden Hazard scored the winning penalty as Chelsea edged past Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties to set up an all-English Europa League final against Arsenal.

Hazard, who could have played his final game for the Blues at Stamford Bridge, converted after Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had saved from both Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia.

Chelsea will now meet Arsenal in the final in Baku on 29 May and the result means both the Champions League and Europa League final 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 when Ruben Loftus-Cheek coolly stroked into the far corner in the 28th minute, but the night was far from straight-forward.

Frankfurt levelled the tie four minutes after half-time when Luka Jovic slotted past Arrizabalaga after being played in by Mijat Gacinovic.

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Jovic’s goal punished Chelsea for a sloppy start to the second half and the Blues continued to be wasteful as Stamford Bridge became increasingly restless.

In extra-time the Germans twice had efforts cleared off the line with David Luiz first denying Sebastian Haller and then Davide Zappacosta clearing Haller again at a corner.

Chelsea thought they had won it late in extra-time but Cesar Azpilicueta, who later missed first in the penalty shootout, had a goal ruled out when the referee deemed he had bundled the ball out of Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp’s hands.

The shootout was Chelsea’s first since they lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City on penalties in February.

That game was overshadowed by Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted, but at Stamford Bridge he proved to be the hero.

After Azpilicueta missed first, Arrizabalaga remarkably kept out Eintracht’s fourth penalty by trapping the ball under his shin as he stood still when Hinteregger went for power and then dived low to his right to palm away the visitors’ fifth.

Kepa Arrizabalaga and Cesar Azpilicueta celebrate Chelsea's win
Kepa Arrizabalaga and Cesar Azpilicueta celebrate Chelsea’s win

That left Hazard with the opportunity to complete the win and the Belgian delivered – sending Trapp the wrong way, tucking the ball into the corner.

Hazard has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer and if he does depart the game will be his final at Stamford Bridge after seven years at the club.

There were no waves to the crowd or clear indications he will leave in the summer and when asked whether the final would be his last game for the club he said “in my mind I do not know yet”.

If he does leave in the summer it would be a fitting way for him to finish in west London.

BBC

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