BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — For Eden Hazard, it was the perfect goodbye. For Petr Cech, it was a painful way to retire.
Hazard scored twice past his former teammate as Chelsea sliced through Arsenal in the second half of the Europa League final on Wednesday, netting four times in the space of 23 minutes to win 4-1 in a London derby played far from home.
The Belgian then confirmed that he is likely to leave the club this summer, amid widespread speculation about a move to Real Madrid.
After a drab first half, Chelsea took control in the 49th minute when Olivier Giroud met Emerson’s pass with a diving header into the net. It was the French striker’s 11th goal in 14 games in the Europa League this season, but he barely celebrated against his old team, kneeling with palms raised as his teammates mobbed him.
Pedro doubled the lead when he found space in the penalty area in the 60th to stroke in a cut-back pass from Hazard. It was soon 3-0 when Hazard converted a penalty after Ainsley Maitland-Niles — the only English player to start the all-English final — shoved Giroud in the box.
Two minutes after coming off the bench, Alex Iwobi punished Chelsea for a poor clearance with a volley from the edge of the box to make it 3-1 in the 69th.
But Arsenal’s hopes of a comeback were extinguished three minutes later when Hazard and Giroud teamed up again. Hazard first passed the ball to Giroud and then knocked his flicked cross past Cech, the veteran goalkeeper who was playing his final game before retiring.
Facing the team where he spent his best years — and is expected to return this summer in an administrative role — Cech made good saves from Hazard and substitute Willian to stop Chelsea increasing its lead yet further.
Ending the season empty-handed was unfair to Arsenal, which is improving fast said Cech.
It was the first trophy for Maurizio Sarri, the Chelsea coach, who did not rule out leaving the club Tuesday when asked about the vacant Juventus coach job, after falling out with sections of the club’s fans.
After the final, he said he wanted to meet with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich — who missed most games this season due to British visa issues but was in Baku for the final — or director Marina Granovskaia.
In the first Europa League final to have the video referee system, referee Gianluca Rocchi opted against using any reviews. That aggrieved Arsenal’s players and fans early on when Alexandre Lacazette collided with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga but no penalty was given.
Arsenal now faces a third consecutive season outside the Champions League, which could hurt its ability to attract transfer targets in the summer.
With several thousand empty seats and only around 6,000 fans from England, the atmosphere in the stadium struggled to match that of a typical European final.
Arsenal and Chelsea fans had complained of the high cost of travel from Western Europe, and even though locals and fans from elsewhere in the world made up the numbers, the atmosphere was subdued, even flat. Livening up the Baku Olympic Stadium will be a tricky task for Azerbaijani’s organizers for the four European Championships game it hosts next year.
For English soccer, this was just the curtain-raiser in a week showing the Premier League’s dominance. On Saturday, Tottenham and Liverpool contest the Champions League final in Madrid.