The Latest: Hazard: 'I think this is a goodbye' to Chelsea

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — The Latest on the Europa League final (all times local):

1:20 a.m.

Eden Hazard says his Europa League-winning performance against Arsenal was probably his goodbye to Chelsea.

The Belgian, who scored twice in the 4-1 final victory, says "I think this is a goodbye but in football you never know."

Hazard has been widely linked with Real Madrid and said in a TV interview on the field straight after the game that "my dream was to play in the Premier League. I did this for seven years for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Maybe it's time for a new challenge."

Hazard scored twice in the final and says "we controlled the game and I'm just happy to lift this trophy with the boys."


1:10 a.m.

Chelsea's 4-1 win in the Europa League final shut Arsenal out of the Champions League for another season, and lifted French club Lyon into the lucrative group stage again.

Chelsea already qualified for next season's Champions League group stage by finishing third in the Premier League, and now takes the top-seeded place reserved for the Europa League winner.

That cleared a direct entry to the 32-team group stage. The third-place finisher in the French league, Lyon, is next in line.

Lyon leaps up and avoids having to navigate two qualifying rounds — just as it did one year ago when Spanish league runner-up Atletico Madrid won the Europa League.

Arsenal's only route to the Champions League was by winning Wednesday. The Gunners finished fifth in the Premier League, earning just a Europa League group-stage place.

It will be Arsenal's third straight year in the second-tier competition after a 19-year run in the Champions League.


12:50 a.m.

Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud tore apart Arsenal in the space of 23-second half minutes to give Chelsea a 4-1 to win in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Against the backdrop of many empty seats in faraway Azerbaijan, Chelsea took control of the London derby in the 49th minute when Giroud met Emerson's pass with a diving header into the net.

Pedro found space in the penalty area in the 60th to stroke in a cut-back pass from Hazard, who soon made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after Ainsley Maitland-Niles 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.

But Arsenal's hopes of a comeback were swiftly extinguished when Hazard and Giroud teamed up for a one-two which ended with Hazard knocking the striker's flicked cross past goalkeeper Petr Cech.


11:50 p.m.

Arsenal and Chelsea are still level 0-0 at halftime in the Europa League final after a drab and slow-paced first half.

With thousands of empty seats in the Baku Olympic Stadium, Arsenal appealed for a penalty when Alexandre Lacazette collided with Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The referee turned him down and didn't refer the matter to the video assistant referees.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka sent a powerful shot narrowly over the bar from long distance, and Chelsea's Emerson forced a save from Petr Cech from a tight angle.

Olivier Giroud had two of the better chances of the half, but miskicked in front of goal on one occasion and saw another shot palmed away by Cech.


11:00 p.m.

The Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea has kicked off in Baku.

Unusually for a European final, there were many empty seats in the stadium when the game began, especially in the area dedicated for traveling Arsenal fans. Many English fans had complained of the cost and difficulty of traveling to Azerbaijan for the game.

Victory would hand Arsenal its first European trophy since the 1994 edition of the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup, while Chelsea is seeking a first European title since the 2013 Europa League.

It's the first game in a week of all-English finals in Europe's top two club competitions. Tottenham plays Liverpool in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday.

Wednesday's game also marks the first use of the video assistant referee system in a major European club final.


9:55 p.m.

Petr Cech will start in goal for Arsenal against Chelsea in the Europa League final in his last game before retirement.

Cech was picked ahead of Bernd Leno despite speculation that he could join Chelsea in an administrative role next season. He won the Europa League with Chelsea in 2013.

N'Golo Kante is in Chelsea's lineup despite a knee problem which kept him out of full training Tuesday. Olivier Giroud starts up front for Chelsea against his old team along with Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez, with Gonzalo Higuain on the bench.


Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Eden Hazard, Pedro Rodriguez, Olivier Giroud.

Arsenal: Petr Cech, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.


8:40 p.m.

UEFA wants the rules of soccer changed to protect players from concussions, after its own policy for dealing with head injuries came in for criticism in the Champions League.

European soccer's governing body says it wants doctors to have more time to assess head injuries so concussed players aren't put back onto the field.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says there could be a change to the rules on substitutes, but didn't specify whether that could mean temporary replacements for players with head injuries.

UEFA's own concussion policy was put under the spotlight last month when Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen tried to play on after a clash of heads in his team's Champions League semifinal against Ajax.

Vertonghen lasted only 40 seconds before leaving the pitch again as he appeared on the verge of keeling over.


8:02 p.m.

The sun has set in Baku, but there's still three hours to go until kickoff for the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

The game starts at 11 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, and could finish at close to 2 a.m. if there is extra time and a penalty shootout. Baku's subway system is being kept open until 4 a.m., four hours later than normal, to accommodate fans.

The game is scheduled so late to suit TV viewers in Britain and central Europe, but is a headache for fans who might otherwise have counted on getting a flight home straight after the game.


7:40 p.m.

UEFA is tightening its rules to stop countries which don't recognize Kosovo from refusing to host its national soccer team.

Kosovo is assured of at least a place in the 2020 European Championship qualifying playoffs, putting it within two games of advancing to its first major tournament. Four of the 11 countries hosting games in next year's tournament — Azerbaijan, Romania, Russia and Spain — don't recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says "this policy obliges all other teams to accept to play against Kosovo national and club teams as the result of a draw, be it on their own territory or on the territory of Kosovo."

That could put UEFA at odds with nations like Ukraine, which doesn't recognize Kosovo and had its home 2018 World Cup qualifying game against Kosovo moved to Poland as a result.

Kosovo is recognized by all its opponents in its current European Championship qualifying group — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Montenegro, as well as the British government for England.


7:05 p.m.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says the governing body won't reconsider having Baku as a host city for next year's European Championship in light of fans' problems traveling to the Europa League final.

Arsenal and Chelsea fans have complained of high travel costs for the final in the capital of Azerbaijan, one of the 12 host cities for next year's championship.

Ceferin says "we will not reassess the appointment of the hosts for the Euro 2020," adding that "it's a pan-European Euro where we want to show that football can bring people together. Of course it will be easier to come to London or to Rome to Munich, than to Baku or Bucharest or Bilbao, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't play there."

Baku is hosting four games including a quarterfinal next year, with some fans having just six days' notice to travel after their team's previous knockout game.


6:30 p.m.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says French soccer federation president Noel le Graet will be a replacement member on the FIFA Council until next March.

Le Graet will temporarily take the seat of Reinhard Grindel, who resigned in April under pressure from German media for undeclared earnings and accepting the gift of a watch from a UEFA executive committee colleague from Ukraine.

The 77-year-old Le Graet is too old by UEFA rules to be voted on to its executive committee, which has an age limit of 70 for candidates. However, he can represent UEFA as one of its FIFA delegates for several months.

Ceferin says Le Graet will take the FIFA seat until UEFA's next annual congress, which will be held on March 3 in Amsterdam.


6:15 p.m.

Former Chelsea player Michael Essien — now playing in the Azerbaijani league — is soaking up the atmosphere among the fans in Baku ahead of the Europa League final.

The former Ghana midfield great visited the official "fan zone" near the city's Caspian Sea coast.

Since he left Chelsea, the 36-year-old Essien has had a succession of short-lived stints with clubs like AC Milan, Panathinaikos, Persib Bandung in Indonesia and, lately, Azerbaijani team Sabail.

There are comparatively few English fans in Baku for the game, with Chelsea and Arsenal having sold about 6,000 tickets combined for the 68,700-seat Olympic Stadium. Much of the rest will be made up of local fans and Arsenal and Chelsea supporters who have traveled from around the world.


2:30 p.m.

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi is attending a UEFA executive committee meeting ahead of the Europa League final despite being implicated in a French corruption case.

French prosecutors last week linked al-Khelaifi to payments allegedly helping the Qatari capital of Doha win the hosting rights for the track and field world championships.

Besides his role at PSG, al-Khelaifi is chairman of Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports and he also sits on the UEFA executive committee representing the influential European Club Association.

He is also the subject of a criminal proceeding opened in 2017 in Switzerland where federal prosecutors suspect he bribed a senior FIFA official with the use of a luxury villa in Italy to help beIN retain World Cup broadcasting rights.

The meeting at a Baku hotel ahead of the Europa League final is expected to pick a replacement for Reinhard Grindel, who resigned as UEFA vice president last month following criticism of his leadership of the German soccer federation.

UEFA will also select a host for the 2021 Women's Champions League final.


2:20 p.m.

UEFA executive committee member Andriy Pavelko has defended the choice of Baku as host of the Europa League final, despite high travel costs for Arsenal and Chelsea fans.

Pavelko says "obviously it's peak strain on any city which does it, and I think there would be no less of a problem in London with the location and the hotels."

He adds that he is "sure that the match will give positive emotions to all the fans who have arrived for the final and I'm sure that Baku will show its abilities and hospitality to the maximum."

Only a few thousand Arsenal and Chelsea fans from England have made the journey to Azerbaijan. Many were deterred by high hotel prices and the relatively few and expensive flights from Western Europe.


12:30 p.m.

Two fans have been injured in confrontations ahead of the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Azerbaijan Health Ministry spokesman Parviz Abubekirov tells The Associated Press one British fan was hospitalized with an open head wound and bruising "as a result of an altercation between fans of the two football teams."

Abubekirov adds a Russian man was hurt in an unconnected incident in a bar and treated at the scene.

Relatively few English fans have traveled to Azerbaijan for Wednesday's final because of high travel costs, and neither Arsenal nor Chelsea sold out their allocations of 6,000 tickets apiece.

However, many fans of both clubs have flown in from Russia and southeast Asia, and both Arsenal and Chelsea have local supporters in Azerbaijan.


12 p.m.

Arsenal and Chelsea are gearing up to play a London derby far from home in the Europa League final.

Playing three time zones and 2,460 miles (4,000 kilometers) from London in Azerbaijan, the game offers Arsenal coach Unai Emery the chance to win a record fourth Europa League title.

It could be his Chelsea counterpart Maurizio Sarri's last game with the team after he refused to rule himself out of the vacant Juventus post on Tuesday, though he said he would find it hard to leave the English Premier League.

N'Golo Kante has a knee problem and is not guaranteed to start for Chelsea, which is already missing injured midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Victory would hand Arsenal its first European trophy since the 1994 edition of the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup, while Chelsea is seeking a first European title since the 2013 Europa League.


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