Chelsea humbles Arsenal 4-1 in Europa League final
WHAT a way to go.
Eden Hazard, making one and scoring two goals in his final game for Chelsea, goes with their blessing after his dazzling display.
The fan favourite has done his bit, leaving them wanting more before he heads to the Bernabeu.
Hazard has earned this move.
The Europa League is a long way from the Champions League trophy he dreamed of lifting when he joined the holders in 2012.
Even so, to leave them after finishing third in the Premier League and sealing this Europa League triumph is fitting.
This was his night.
Chelsea embarrassed Arsenal, humbling them with a vicious second-half performance.
The manner of victory on a big European night makes the job of managing Chelsea worth all the hassle.
Despite all those boardroom battles, dressing room fall-outs and fans screaming for Sarri-ball to be booted into touch, this lot still know how to win silverware.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, lifting the first serious medal of his chaotic career, is a winner at last.
Olivier Giroud and Pedro - planting Chelsea's opening goals beyond Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, their incoming technical director - made sure of that.
So did Hazard, sending Cech the wrong way to roll a 65th-minute penalty beyond the keeper to make it 3-0, before scoring a delicious fourth with 18 minutes left.
It turned into a dismal night for Unai Emery, who was desperately chasing a Champions League spot.
His Gunners belong in the Europa League.
Even sub Alex Iwobi's 69th-minute cracker from 20m, makingit 3-1, could not alter the outcome.
Chelsea ran out easy winners, coming all this way to Azerbaijan to make sure Arsenal remain in the B competition next season.
They know how to rain on a parade, especially as Arsenal had theirs booked up, with the streets of Islington on a warning they were coming back with the cup.
After a largely forgettable first half, Chelsea got going after the break.
Their pocket of travelling fans, hard to find at first, made a noise when they started singing anti-Uefa songs.
This lot won't listen to Joe Public.
Uefa's almighty bog-up means Baku has a generation of football fans they never knew existed, bussed in at short notice to fill up this 68,700-seat stadium.
Some looked like they had never been to a game in their lives - by the way, Arsenal were in red, Chelsea in blue.
Emery's side flickered first, finally doing something midway through a sluggish first half.
Alexandre Lacazette demanded a penalty, claiming he had been cleaned out as he made his way past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Arsenal's fans jolted into life, jumped up and down in the stands when they thought ref Gianluca Rocchi called it in their favour. Instead, he gave a free-kick.
Chelsea responded with Cech saving well as Emerson weaved his way into the Arsenal penalty area.
The Czech No.1, 37, is giving it all up after this, retiring those gilded gloves to become Chelsea's director of football.
His save from Giroud, flipping away his 39th-minute effort, was vintage Cech.
In front of him, this Arsenal defence started off well enough with Ainsley Maitland-Niles' block tackle on Hazard in the first half. There was a glimpse of Hazard's Galactico qualities after 39 minutes when he moved through the gears to set up Giroud's chance.
Sarri needed a bit more out of his Belgian magician.
It was coming.
English football is used to these two clubs snapping and snarling at each other in London.
The Chelsea Pensioners would have beaten Arsenal last night. They were poor, with Lacazette and his buddy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failing to make an impact.
As for the anonymous Mesut Ozil, there is nothing left to be said.
The second half was everything the first wasn't.
Giroud scored the opener when he got in front of Laurent Koscielny to brilliantly head Emerson's 49th-minute cross beyond Cech.
More were on the way.
Hazard set up the chance for Pedro, losing the Arsenal defence for the Chelsea winger to make it 2-0 after 60 minutes. He was on the score sheet himself five minutes later when the fading legs of Maitland-Niles upended Giroud inside the area.
Hazard's effortless penalty, sending Cech diving off to his left, made it 3-0.
Even when Iwobi pulled one back, Chelsea were too strong.
Hazard signed off in style, linking up with his big mate Giroud.
The French forward drifted wide from Hazard's initial pass, before returning the favour with a delightful dinked cross that Hazard calmly placed beyond Cech with a half-volley.
He left the field two minutes from time, taken off to make sure he got the acclaim this performance deserved.
Seven years ago, Hazard was one of the most promising players in Europe when he walked through the door.
He leaves a Chelsea legend.