Thursday, May 9, Europa League Results: Chelsea and Arsenal reach final
By STEVE DOUGLAS AP Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England became the first country to provide two finalists in both European competitions in the same season after Chelsea and Arsenal made it through to the title match in the Europa League on Thursday.
Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 in a penalty shootout at Stamford Bridge, after a second straight 1-1 draw between the teams in the semifinals.
Eden Hazard converted the winning penalty, in what could be his final appearance at Stamford Bridge, after Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved two penalties.
Arsenal's path to the final was more straightforward, beating Valencia 4-2 thanks to a hat trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to complete a 7-3 win on aggregate.
It adds up to a season of domination for English clubs in Europe, with Liverpool and Tottenham reaching the final of the Champions League this week by overturning three-goal aggregate deficits at various stages of their semifinals against Barcelona and Ajax, respectively.
The Europa League final will be staged in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29.
Arsenal will likely need to win the Europa League to get into next season's Champions League as it probably won't finish in the top four of the Premier League. Chelsea is already guaranteed a top-four finish.
Unai Emery was a three-time winner of the Europa League with Sevilla, from 2014-16. Now he's got a chance of winning it again in his first season as Arsenal manager after becoming the first coach to get to the final of the competition on four occasions.
Once again, it was the strike partnership of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette that did the damage against Valencia, which took the lead in the 11th through Kevin Gameiro and initially swarmed all over Arsenal.
But the complexion of the game changed when Lacazette flicked the ball on for Aubameyang to chest down and power a bouncing ball into the corner from outside the area in the 17th.
Lacazette collected a pass from Lucas Torreira, span his marker and curled home a finish to put Arsenal in the lead for the first time, only for Gameiro to equalize from close range eight minutes later.
Aubameyang's speed was a constant threat for Arsenal when he drifted onto the flanks, and he showed a turn of pace inside the area when he latched onto Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross from the right and slid home a finish from the edge of the six-yard box.
The Gabon international completed his hat trick in the 89th minute by firing a shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle from Henrikh Mkhitaryan's through-ball.