Oh my word. Chelsea just do not do things the easy way do they?
After a gruesome 120 minutes, Chelsea finally sealed their place in the final after a penalty shootout victory against Eintracht Frankfurt. Who scored the winning penalty? Eden Hazard. It had to be.
Now, Chelsea complete the set of their being four English teams in the European Cup finals, with Arsenal waiting for us in Baku, Azerbaijan.
1st Half – Loftus-Cheek puts Chelsea in Control
The match started with a cracking atmosphere, largely helped by the visitors who travelled in their numbers for one of their biggest games in their history. Chelsea had started the game well, and the likes of Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud came close in the early exchanges, but we couldn’t get that telling touch.
Da Costa went close for Frankfurt, when his volley from outside the area made Keppa produce a stunning save to tip it over the bar. Chelsea got that vital first goal when some neat work by Eden Hazard put Loftus-Cheek through on goal in acres of space, as he calmly slotted it into the corner. Chelsea continued to be in control as the referee called time on the first-half. 1-0 to the Blues.
2nd Half – Jovic Goal Sends Tie to Extra-Time
Eintracht Frankfurt started the second half as if they had nothing to lose, and they caused us many problems going forward. From their perspective, they scored a well-worked goal, as the Bosnian Mijat Gacinovic and Serbian Luka Jović linked together excellent for the latter to finish. Chelsea’s defence looked dreadful though, as Emerson was well out of line in his position, keeping the Serbian onside.
It was 1-1, with the game and the tie all square. I am not sure what the issue is with Chelsea, but our 2nd half performances, Watford aside, have been underwhelming and slow for quite some time, and the 2nd half we failed to muster any type of pressure as Stamford Bridge became restless. If there was going to be a winner in the game, I’d have put money on Frankfurt, but thankfully we held out until extra-time.
Extra Time – Nothing to Separate the Teams
At this point, we had heard Arsenal had booked their place in the final following a 4-2 win over Valencia. On a great week for clubs in England in Europe, I felt like it was an obligation for Chelsea to qualify. In extra time though, it was Frankfurt once again who were closest, with us needing goal line clearances from David Luiz and Davide Zappacosta.
For a few moments, I thought we had taken the lead through César Azpilicueta who bundled the ball in, but quite rightly, it was ruled out. So, for the 3rd time this season, penalties it was!
Penalties – Eden Hazard Converts Final Pen
Frankfurt decided to take their penalty first, and also had them down at the Shed End where their fans were located. Sebastian Haller and Ross Barkley both scored to take it to 1-1 after a penalty each. Frankfurt scored their 2nd through Luka Jovic before César Azpilicueta missed putting us behind after two. Jonathan de Guzman made it 3 for 3 for Frankfurt, whilst Jorginho scored for us to make it 2-3.
Then, Martin Hinteregger blasted penalty straight down the middle was saved by Keppa, allowing David Luiz to level the shootout – which he did! Effectively it became sudden death already, and their substitute Goncalo Paciencia missed, giving Eden Hazard the opportunity to win the game and send us through. It could potentially be his last kick at Stamford Bridge, and there was no way he was going to miss it.
Cool and calm as ever, as he passed it into the net, and cue wild celebrations. We are off to the final!
Chelsea now have to try and recover and face Leicester on the final match day of the Premier League on Sunday. A win guarantees that we get 3rd place in the Premier League.
Following that, we have friendly match against New England Patriots before finally preparing for oue Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 29th – Arsenal are the opponents!