Arsenal and Chelsea will contest the Uefa Europa League final after both London clubs navigated their way in their respective semi final second leg encounters.
While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hattrick lifted Arsenal to a 4-2 win over Valencia in Spain to qualify 7-3 on aggregate, Chelsea needed the lottery of penalties to win 4-3 after Eintracht Frankfurt had battled to a 1-1 draw for a 2-2 aggregate scoreline, and with both clubs inseparable after 30 minutes of extra time.
At the Mestalla stadium in Spain, Valencia scored first through Kevin Gameiro but were Arsenal replied with two goals from Gabonese striker, Aubameyang and his strike partner, Alexandre Lacazette. Despite Valencia leveling the game at 2-2, Aubameyang added two further goals to complete his hattrick, his third a bullet into the top corner to lead The Gunners into the final where their Spanish manager, Unai Emery, also known as “Mr Europa League” could make history by winning a record fourth Europa League crown.
London rivals, Chelsea, were however made to sweat through an uneasy passage by German opponents, Frankfurt, who held their own against an Eden Hazard-inspired Blues side. The Belgian winger who is rumoured to be on his way to Real Madrid in the summer assisted Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s early goal and despite the BundesLiga side equalizing early in the second half and repelling Chelsea in extra time, Hazard was on hand to land the fatal blow with the winning penalty kick.
Chelsea return to the Europa League final six years after winning the trophy, while Arsenal are in their first European final since they lost the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006, while they were also defeated by Galatasaray in 2000 to lose the fore runner of the Europa League competition, the UEFA Cup.
Following Liverpool and Tottenham contesting the Champions League final next month, a Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea means total domination for English clubs in Europe this season for the first time ever, and this would be the first time for such one-nation scenario in European club competitions.
The Europa League final will be held on May 29 at the Olympic stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.