After all the European drama this week, Chelsea topped off the fixtures with a tough semi final against German opposition Frankfurt that had to be decided on penalties.
Chelsea were very much favourites going into the second leg at the Bridge, knowing that a 1-0 would be enough to reach the Europa League final. The first half went to plan, the blues looking in control of the tie and taking a lead in the 28th minute, a side footed finish from Loftus-Cheek into the bottom corner. A goal that puts Ruben Loftus-Cheek into double figures this season, a great feat for the Englishman considering his injuries this season. Chelsea win into the break a goal up knowing that a clean sheet in the second half would take them through to the final.
The second half saw a complete change, much like the first leg when Chelsea as the away team looked the better side, now Frankfurt were pushing the game. An equaliser came just under 5 minutes after the restart, a slick passing move which saw Luka Jovic in behind Chelsea’s defence and he calmly slotted his strike into the bottom corner beating Kepa.
The pressure continued to mount on Chelsea in the second half and Frankfurt were undeniably the better side, however Chelsea stuck in there to take the game to extra time.
Extra time started in the same vein as the second half, Frankfurt looking like the more dangerous side and the only team that looked like they were going to pinch it in extra time, Frankfurt denied by some great defending by David Luiz and Davide Zappacosta on the line on two separate occasions .
Towards the end of the second period of extra time Chelsea had a chance which came close from Zappacosta, a clean right footed strike from outside the box, which was heading goal bound, only to be pushed over by Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. Chelsea also saw a goal ruled out too in the second half of extra time however rightly so as Azpilicueta fouled Kevin Trapp.
The result could not be determined in the 120 minutes of football so a penalty shoot out was to decide the game. Who stepped up when it mattered? Kepa. The Chelsea goalkeeper made two great saves in the shoot-out, one at a crucial time as Cesar Azpilicueta missed his penalty. A great way for Kepa to make up for the mistakes during the final of the League Cup which received a lot of backlash from supporters and pundits around the world.
Hazard then stepped up to score the last Chelsea penalty, quite fittingly to win the game! Although the Belgian had a quiet evening he still managed to be a decider in the game and if he is to leave in the summer Chelsea fans will have nothing but respect for the number 10.
Chelsea now look ahead to the final in Baku (Azerbaijan) where they will face up against Arsenal for an all English final. Will Chelsea be able to ride their luck again in the final? Let’s hope so!