Kepa's pair of shootout saves make him the hero as Chelsea reach Europa League final
LONDON -- Eden Hazard signed off what looks likely to be his last Chelsea appearance at Stamford Bridge with the winning penalty, as Maurizio Sarri's men booked their place in the Europa League final with a dramatic shootout win over Eintracht Frankfurt following a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea still have hope of ending this roller-coaster season with silverware, Hazard can still sign off with a winners' medal and Sarri can still claim the first major trophy of his coaching career. Arsenal await in Baku for what promises to be the most surreal of London derbies.
The second half here was a familiar story as Chelsea, having dominated Eintracht for the opening 45 minutes, lost their way early in the second half and allowed their opponents to snatch the equaliser that turned this into a nail-biter. Sarri will know much better is required to overcome Arsenal in the final.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Sarri's starting XI had the desired effect early in this game, but what does he say (or not say) to his team at half-time? The open anger of Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek at being substituted was not a good look for the Italian, and his decision to snub Gary Cahill when Andreas Christensen went off injured was a huge risk -- but in the end, it just about paid off.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 8 -- Made arguably the best save of his Chelsea career to date in the first half, flying high to tip Danny da Costa's brilliant volley away from his top left corner. Wasn't really tested after that until David Luiz left him brutally exposed to the ruthless Luka Jovic, but beat away another fierce Mijat Gacinovic effort before making himself a hero in the shootout with two saves.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 -- Was incredibly lucky not to see a straight red card for a reckless two-footed lunge that caught Gacinovic on the knee. Otherwise, handled his unexpected transition to centre-back pretty well. Thought he'd won it in extra time, then telegraphed his penalty for Kevin Trapp to save.
DF Andreas Christensen, 6 -- Took a heavy fall early on and at times the physicality of Jovic and Ante Rebic troubled him, but he generally dealt with dangerous situations quickly and without fuss. Picked up an injury in the 74th minute, with Davide Zappacosta replacing him and Azpilicueta shifting to centre-back.
DF David Luiz, 6 -- Struggled to deal with Jovic throughout, allowing the Serb to climb above him for an early headed chance and then managing to lose him twice in the lead-up to Eintracht's equaliser. Partially salvaged an otherwise torrid night with a fantastic goal-line clearance from Sebastien Haller in extra time, and buried his penalty convincingly.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 6 -- His overlapping runs down the left flank caused Eintracht lots of problems in a particularly bright opening half hour, but the overall collapse of Chelsea's attacking play lessened the effectiveness of his surges. At the other end, his ambition at times left his teammates exposed.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 5 -- Was never likely to shine with the thankless task of replacing N'Golo Kante on the right of Chelsea's midfield three. Could not provide the same defensive cover as the Frenchman, and his usually tidy passing failed him too often as the home side lost control after half-time.
MF Jorginho, 7 -- Continued his recent form in the first half, passing impressively under pressure to get Chelsea on the front foot and initiate some of their most promising moves. Found the going harder in the second half, but never stopped showing for the ball, even as those around him laboured. Kept his head in the shootout.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 -- His slick combinations with Hazard and Emerson formed the basis of Chelsea's best attacks, and it was no surprise when he broke the deadlock, after being slipped in by the Belgian. More errors crept into his passing after the interval, and Barkley replaced him to boos in the 86th minute.
FW Willian, 4 -- Had a couple of nice moments in the first half as Chelsea attacked with speed, fluidity and purpose, but was one of the worst culprits as they emerged after the interval still asleep. Reacted angrily as Sarri attempted to console him after his substitution, but he can have no complaints.
FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- Held the ball up nicely in the early minutes and made several trademark near-post runs, forcing Trapp into one good save. Stung the palms of the Germany international again with a long-range strike later, but his influence waned along with the quality of the service into him.
FW Eden Hazard, 7 -- Seemed eager to garland what is almost certainly his final Chelsea appearance at Stamford Bridge with an individual masterclass, and it was his moment of magic that created Loftus-Cheek's opener. He drifted all over in search of another decisive contribution, but little of what he tried came off. When the shootout fell his way, though, he was always going to be equal to the moment.
FW Pedro, 4 -- Worked as hard as he always does, but seemed incapable of finding a teammate with any of his passes, repeatedly losing the ball in bad areas as Eintracht rallied.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 7 -- Surprisingly chosen ahead of Cahill by Sarri when Christensen had to be replaced. Got forward regularly, brought out two scrambling saves from Trapp with long-range strikes and made a good recovery block on Haller's header in extra time.
MF Ross Barkley, 6 -- Sarri's decision to bring him on for Loftus-Cheek was not a popular one, but he did inject some fresh energy and enthusiasm into the Chelsea midfield. Hazard should have played him clean through in his team's best attack of extra time. Scored an excellent penalty.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 5 -- Inevitably replaced Giroud as Chelsea's fourth sub in extra time, but could do little to affect things positively and still managed to look a step slow on a pitch of tired players. Not trusted with a penalty in the shootout.