By Kunle Adedoyin
Two English premiership club sides will play in the Europa League final in a similar replica of the European Champions League final match.
On Thursday night both Arsenal and Chelsea secured their tickets for the final Europa League final match London derby in Baku on May 29.
This is the first time in history that four English teams will be competing in both the Champions League and Europa League finals as Liverpool will be playing Tottenham Hotspurs meeting in Madrid on June 1 for the Champions League Final.
Arsenal courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hat-trick ended Valencia’s hopes of another dramatic European comeback on Thursday while Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard scored the last kick in the penalty shootout during the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg football match between Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt at Stamford Bridge to take his side to the final.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Valencia made the perfect start at Mestalla when Kevin Gameiro put his team ahead but goals from Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette left the home side in trouble just after 40 minutes of game.
Gameiro scored again, sparking hopes of a revival to trump even the efforts of Liverpool and Tottenham this week, before Aubameyang hit his second and then completed a brilliant hat-trick to seal a 4-2 win, 7-3 on aggregate.
The win also keeps alive Arsenal’s chance of securing a place in the Champions League next season and, realistically, their last chance, given they need to overturn three points and an eight-goal swing on Tottenham in the Premier League this weekend.
“We couldn’t get the Champions League through the league, but this is another way,” said Arsenal coach Unai Emery.
“Our objective is clearly to go to the Champions League but also this is a trophy. It will not be easy.”
Chelsea on its own part scraped past Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 semi-final, second leg draw on Thursday.
Hazard struck the decisive spot-kick after the two sides could not be separated over 120 minutes in what could be the Belgian’s last match at Stamford Bridge, with the tie level at 2-2 on aggregate after Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s 28th-minute opener for Chelsea was cancelled out by Luka Jovic four minutes after the break.