On one side Eden Hazard was simply superb for Chelsea, on the other it was a case of anyone seen Mesut Ozil??
The inevitable result was the Blue side of London winning their third European trophy this decade after Arsenal blew up in Baku.
Unai Emery’s defence had more holes in it than a colander and let in FOUR in 23 second-half minutes.
To add insult to injury Olivier Giroud – one-time darling of the Gunners – opened the scoring with an absolute peach of a header to make him the competition’s top scorer this campaign with 11 goals.
The dashing Frenchman – with 103 Arsenal goals to his name – also drew purrs of delight with a sweet lob-chip assist for Hazard’s second and took a tumble to win his side a soft penalty, which the brilliant Belgian converted.
Hazard revealed after the game what every Chelsea fan feared – that this was goodbye – but what a way to go out.
In contrast Ozil was totally anonymous and was hooked for 19-year-old rookie Joe Willock, which says it all. How can the German look himself in the eye? Mirrors can’t talk and lucky for him they can’t laugh either.
Since Roman Abramovich bought the Blues in 2003 the club have lifted 16 major trophies in the Russian’s 16-year hire ‘n fire regime.
Next season, with a likely transfer ban and Hazard’s exit to Real Madrid, it could be a rare season without silverware. And that thought will leave Chelsea fans colder than a polar bear’s toenails.
The 28-year-old is irreplaceable and for me is up there with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola and David Silva as one of the most skilful players to have ever graced the Premier League.
There are also rumours Maurizio Sarri will also be off. The Italian won 39 matches in all competitions for Chelsea this season – the only manager to win more in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge was one Jose Mourinho in 2004-05 (42).
Another ending out in Azerbaijan was the career of Petr Cech. All the hoo-ha about him playing was quickly forgotten as he made a sprawling save to deny Emerson and then made a superb fingertip stop from what looked a certain Giroud goal.
Cech, 37, will be remembered as one of the best goalkeeper’s England has ever seen and it was unfortunate he went out conceding four – but not a single one was his fault. He is set to be named sporting director at Chelsea – the club he spent 11 trophy-laden seasons with.
One of the best moments for neutrals was Gary Cahill taking on the proud full-kit w***** Chelsea tradition started by John Terry – appearing from nowhere to lift the cup with skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.
AND finally this is the first time that all four places in Europe’s top two finals will be filled by one country – England.
Tottenham and Liverpool take their turn in the spotlight tomorrow in Madrid – to those poor souls getting married that day, commiserations!
At least the game is taking place in Madrid – somewhere easily accessible unlike Baku. UEFA’s decision to hold the game in Azerbaijan was as wrong as the fact that only one company makes the game Monopoly.
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