Goals from Oliver Giroud, Pedro and Eden Hazard brace seals Maurizio Sarri first ever title with Chelsea.
This was an emphatic victory after a slow start, a vindication for coach Maurizio Sarri who now has a significant trophy on his c.v. as well as Champions League qualifications.
Arsenal never regained the impetus of their better start, and the first goal, after 49 minutes, appeared to suck the confidence from them.
Within 15 minutes of that goal they trailed by three and although a riposte from Alex Iwobi afforded a flicker of hope for Arsenal, Chelsea’s fourth in the 72nd minute saw even more spaces opening up in Baku’s Olympic Stadium than could be seen at the start. And that was plenty, sad to say.
Unai Emery has not lost a Europa League tie since the 2012 semi-final with Valencia, but this was a bad time to break that run. It leaves Arsenal in Europe’s second tier competition for the third year running – with Manchester United and Wolves – a failure that cannot help but impact on their pulling power as Emery’s rebuild continues.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Barkley, 76) Pedro (Willian, 71), Giroud, Hazard (Zappacosta, 89).
Subs not used: Caballero, Cumming, Alonso, Higuain, Cahill, Ampadu, Gallagher, McEachran.
Goals: Giroud 49, Pedro 60, Hazard 65, 72.
Arsenal: Cech, Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Monreal (Guendouzi, 66), Maitland-Niles, Torreira (Iwobi, 67) Xhaka, Kolasinac, Lacazette, Ozil (Willock, 77), Aubameyang.
Subs not used: Leno, Iliev, Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Mustafi, Welbeck, Jenkinson, Nketiah, Saka.
Goals: Alex Iwobi
REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi
For Chelsea, it now remains to be seen whether they are interested enough to keep Sarri from the clutches of Juventus, whose owner could even be found in the team hotel prior to kick-off, and talking to Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. He could have been discussing Champions League business but, even so – strange.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that this was a victory achieved with Eden Hazard, perhaps the last for Chelsea, and it only served to emphasise how much he will be missed. Without having the greatest game, he was their best player, scored twice – once from the penalty spot – and made another.