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Chelsea’s Road to the Europa League Final

Leigh Copson 16 May 2019
Olivier Giroud (credit: Steven Paston/EMPICS Sport)

Chelsea will be aiming to avoid a second Final defeat of the season when they take on London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League Final on May 29, and ahead of this big all-Premier League clash we have been taking a look back at how the Blues booked their trip to Baku…

Sighting that the Europa League could “be a problem” later in the campaign, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made several changes to his starting XI for opening night, with Eden Hazard one of the players rested. It was not a decision that backfired though, as a seventh-minute strike from Willian proved to be enough for the victory in Greece.

Group Stage Matchday 2 – Chelsea 1 Vidi 0

A 1-0 scorline hardly suggests this was a convincing win for Chelsea, but they did dominate proceedings at Stamford Bridge and got the victory they deserved when Willian flicked on a Cesc Fabregas pass and Alvaro Morata stroked the ball home. There was a late scare though, but goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved well from Istvan Kovacs to ensure the victory for Maurizio Sarri’s side. 

Group Stage Matchday 3 – Chelsea 3 BATE Borisov 1

Chelsea had been forced to rely on a single goal in each of their opening two games, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek quickly ensured that would not be the case against BATE Borisov on Matchday 3. The young midfielder needed less than two minutes to break the deadlock and he then doubled his team’s lead on eight minutes when he volleyed home a Willian corner. Loftus-Cheek then produced a stunning effort to seal the victory and wrap up his first professional hat-trick eight minutes into the second half.

Group Stage Matchday 4 – BATE Borisov 0 Chelsea 1

BATE Borisov came out all guns blazing as they looked to prevent Chelsea from taking another early lead against them, but they failed to make the most of a couple of early chances and lost control of the match as it wore on. The Belarusian side were then punished seven minutes after the break when ex-Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud netted his first goal for Chelsea since Maurizio Sarri arrived, ending a three-month long drought. The victory also wrapped up a last-32 spot with two games to go.

Group Stage Matchday 5 – Chelsea 4 POAK 0

Olivier Giroud had broken his duck under Maurizio Sarri as Chelsea won in Belarus on Matchday 4 and he followed that up by playing a starring role when the Blues welcomed POAK to Stamford Bridge for the penultimate fixture in the group stage. The visitors gave themselves a mountain to climb with the early dismissal of Yevhen Khacheridi and Chelsea ruthlessly dispatched them, with Giroud curling in the opener before slamming home a volley inside the opening half-an-hour. Teenage Callum Hudson-Odoi, who burst onto the scene this season, made it 3-0 on the hour before Alvaro Morata wrapped things up with 12 minutes to go.

Group Stage Matchday 6 – Vidi 2 Chelsea 2

Chelsea had an opportunity to complete a perfect group campaign when they visited Vidi, but instead they found themselves having to come from behind to rescue a draw. Willian’s goal on the half-an-hour mark put the Blues ahead, but an Ethan Ampadu own goal and a Loic Negy strike turned the game on its head before Giroud made it four goals in three Europa League outings to earn a draw for the Premier League side.

Last-32 – Chelsea beat Malmo 5-1 on aggregate

Pressure was mounting on manager Maurizio Sarri heading into the first leg in Sweden. Chelsea had suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Manchester City the weekend before and the general feeling was that nothing less than a win would keep the Italian in his job. He got it, but a late strike from Anders Christiansen made for a nervous finish after Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud had given the English side a two-goal lead. The second leg was a less nervy affair – it took a little while for Chelsea to get going but there was only going to be one winner after Giroud finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half. Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi then wrapped up the victory.

Last-16 – Chelsea beat Dynamo Kiev 8-0 on aggregate

Youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi was establishing himself as a man for the European occasion as he once again find the back of the net in the Europa League. The Chelsea starlet’s 90th minute effort came on the back of goals from Pedro and Willian, as the Blues gave themselves a commanding 3-0 lead to take to Kiev for the second leg. It did not matter. Not only did Hudson-Odoi continue his excellent scoring run in Europe, team-mate Olivier Giroud continued his own purple patch in the competition as he fired in a hat-trick to help the London club on their way to a commanding 5-0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

Quarter-Finals – Chelsea beat Slavia Prague 5-3 on aggregate

Chelsea missed out on a last-eight meeting with Maurizio Sarri’s former employers, Napoli, but they will have welcomed what many considered a favourable quarter-final tie in the shape of Slavia Prague. The Blues edged ahead in the tie when Marcos Alonso’s late effort gave them a 1-0 win and an important away goal, and they were pretty much out of sight by the half-an-hour point in the return meeting at Stamford Bridge. Sarri’s men came racing out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter to score four times inside the opening 27 minutes, with Pedro scoring either side of a Simon Deli own goal and another European strike from Olivier Giroud, but they were made to sweat in the second half as Petr Sevcik scored a couple of crackers to build on Tomas Soucek’s first-half effort. However, Prague had given themselves too much of a hill to climb and Chelsea saw out the win.

Semi-Finals – Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties (2-2 aggregate)

A tricky trip to Germany was Chelsea’s reward for booking a place in the semi-finals and it turned out to be an awkward affair for the London club. Frankfurt had already got the better of some prestigious clubs to make it to the last four, and they showed they meant business when red-hot striker Luka Kovic put them ahead on 23 minutes. Pedro levelled it up before half-time and that strike meant that the two teams would be on level terms when they met again in London a week later. After 120 minutes of that one they were still level. Jovic struck again to cancel out Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s opener, and after neither side could muster a winner it was down to penalty kicks to determine a winner. Chelsea looked to be in trouble when Cesar Azpilicueta missed his spot-kick, but Kepa Arrizabalaga came to his rescue with a couple of saves that set the Blues on their way to Baku.

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