No word from Maurizio Sarri. But let’s give the man some space, he’s earned this post-match ciggie. A trophy at long last for the 60-year-old Chelsea boss; many congratulations to him and his deserving team. Commiserations to Arsenal, who will have another shot at this competition next season. All that’s left is to remind you that Dominic Fifield’s report is live, and thank you for reading this MBM. Nighty night!
Unai Emery speaks! “Firstly, congratulations to Chelsea. In the first half, we worked hard and made some chances to score. The match was going well. The first goal changed all, and the second goal made it difficult for us. We could not find the capacity to score.”
Dominic Fifield was our man in Baku. His report has just landed … and here it is. Click now to enjoy!
Cesar Azpilicueta and the outgoing Gary Cahill lift the Europa League trophy! As Queen blasts from the PA, the Europa League champions hand the silverware to their manager. Yesterday he was kicking his cap around in frustration; today he’s hoisting the cup in celebration. What a difference a day makes! Quite literally in this final, given there wasn’t much between the two teams in the first half, but an absolute chasm after the clock ticked past midnight. It’s lovely to see Sarri’s joy after the difficult season he’s had. A European trophy, third place in the Premier League and a domestic cup final … it wasn’t too bad in the end, was it?
Unai Emery, the colour drained from his face, ushers his team up to collect their runners-up medals. Chelsea form a guard of honour as they glumly trudge up to the podium. Nobody seems happy to have the medal draped around their neck, as you’d imagine. Emery walks off ahead of his team, then stands well apart from them. He’s either lost in contemplation, or simply fuming. Or both. My money’s on both. Expect some changes in the summer … though it’s a harder job now, with no Champions League next season, and the Thursday-Sunday grind to look forward to.
Olivier Giroud speaks! “I think it was a good final. We were better and more efficient in the second half. I am very proud because this team deserved to win something. We lost the League Cup against City, but this one is special, the second-best European championship. Obviously I left so many friends in Arsenal, the club changed my life, gave me the opportunity to live my dream of playing in the Premier League. I owe them a lot, so I will never forget and that’s why I didn’t want to celebrate. But on another side, I am so proud to win this trophy with Chelsea, I’m now a true blue. I feel blessed.”
On the touchline, Unai Emery strokes his chin pensively and stares at the floor. He’s won this competition three times with Sevilla, but now feels the sting of defeat. Chelsea are bouncing around in celebration, though their joy will be somewhat tempered by the interview Eden Hazard has just given to BT Sport on his future. “I don’t know yet, we will decide in a few days. I’ve made my decision already. It’s depending on both clubs. We will know in a couple of days. I think it is a goodbye, but in football you never know. Maybe it is time for a new challenge.”
CHELSEA WIN THE 2019 EUROPA LEAGUE! The whistle goes, and Maurizio Sarri holds his arms out in triumph! The first trophy of his managerial career! To a man, Chelsea erupt in joy; Arsenal crumble en masse to the grass.
90 min +1: Iwobi sends the ball towards Aubameyang, to the right of the Chelsea goal. Aubameyang’s shot is flying wide left. Lacazette hooks it back into play, only for it to pinball back off Willock and out for a goal kick. It’s been that kind of evening for Arsenal.
90 min: There will be three added minutes of bonus pain for Arsenal.
89 min: But there’s to be no hat-trick. Hazard is replaced by Zappacosta, and departs to the warmest ovation from the Chelsea faithful. If he is going to Real Madrid, he’s leaving with their blessing after seven years of top-drawer service. If he’s really going … what a way to sign off!
88 min: Hazard is over, having been clipped by Willock. He looks in a bit of pain, but he also looks like he wants to continue.
86 min: A free kick for Arsenal, 30 yards out. Lacazette fancies it. He curls hard towards the top left, but it’s always high and wide. “Apart from being listed on the team sheet, your first mention of Ozil was his substitution,” notes Robert Shrimplin, the post-mortem already underway. “Same with the BBC online commentary. Sky Sports was more generous with a total of three mentions. So much for being Arsenal’s playmaker.”
84 min: It’s not breaking news, but this is not Arsenal’s night. Lacazette slips Willock into the area down the left. Willock opens his body and sends a lovely fierce curler around Kepa … and inches wide of the top right. Two great chances in a couple of minutes, both spurned.
82 min: Corner for Arsenal on the right. It’s worked back to Iwobi, who thinks about shooting but chips carefully down the right channel for Lacazette, in space in the box. His shot is saved by Kepa, and the rebound falls to Aubameyang, who can’t sort his feet out in time. Christensen blocks the eventual shot and Chelsea clear.
81 min: From the corner, Hazard tickles a lovely pass down the inside right to spring Azpilicueta into space. The Chelsea captain lashes a shot across Cech and inches wide of the left-hand post. A little curl on that and it would have been five.
80 min: Chelsea are looking to put some serious hurt on Arsenal. Barkley flicks a lovely pass down the inside-right channel to release Willian into space. Willian smashes a first-time shot from just inside that box; it’s deflected out for a corner.
79 min: Willian dribbles hard down the inside-right channel and enters the area. For a second, it opens up for him. He fires low towards the bottom left. Cech does extremely well to get a fingertip to the shot, turning it round for a corner, from which nothing comes.
77 min: Willock comes on for Ozil, who has achieved very little today. Ozil has the good grace to look embarrassed as he trudges off.
76 min: Barkley comes on for Kovacic.
75 min: Aubameyang has a frustrated lash from the right wing. It flies harmlessly high and wide.
74 min: Arsenal have the look of a team who just want to go home. Hazard and Giroud combine well down the left. Hazard, on a hat-trick now, curls hard towards the bottom right. Cech saves well.
So much for that dramatic comeback. Hazard wins the ball off Aubameyang near the centre circle. He bustles goalwards, then slips a pass to the left. Giroud draws his man, then chips it back into the centre for Hazard, who sweeps the ball into the bottom right. That was wonderful from Chelsea’s perspective; not so impressive from Arsenal’s.
71 min: Kante nearly releases Giroud with a fine curled pass from the right. Koscielny stretches to divert the ball away, last ditch. Corner. Before it can be taken, Willian comes on for Pedro. And then the set piece comes in to little effect. But once again, no matter, because …
Some head tennis in the box. The ball breaks to Iwobi, to the right of the D. The sub meets the dropping ball with the side of his foot, and creams a stunner into the top left, Kepa with no chance! What a goal that was! This can’t be on, can it? They couldn’t, could they?
68 min: Iwobi’s first act is to tear down the left and draw a foul for Christensen, who is booked for his cynicism. And from the resulting free kick …
67 min: Arsenal played very well yesterday.
66 min: Arsenal respond by making a double change. Monreal is repalced by Guendouzi, while Torreira – in floods of tears – makes way for Iwobi.