MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - 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. It is the first time since the 1972 UEFA Cup — when Wolverhampton Wanderers took on Tottenham — that two English teams squared off for the title in any of this competition’s various guises.
Hazard set up Chelsea’s opening goal by Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the 28th minute with a perfectly weighted pass through Eintracht’s defense but otherwise was well shackled by the German team, which was looking to repeat its 1980 title win in the UEFA Cup — the precursor to the Europa League.
Luka Jovic equalized on the night — and on aggregate — with his 10th goal of the competition, tying for top scorer with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud. And Eintracht created the better chances in extra time, when substitute Sebastien Haller had two efforts cleared off the line first by David Luiz and then Davide Zappacosta.
Eintracht gained an early advantage in the shootout when Cesar Azpilicueta had an attempt saved by Kevin Trapp, leaving the visitors 2-1 ahead. But Kepa starred by saving Martin Hinteregger’s penalty with his knees after staying in the middle of his goal, before pushing aside Goncalo Paciancia’s shot.
That presented Hazard with the chance to wrap up victory and he sent Trapp the wrong way.