Chelsea overwhelm Arsenal in 2nd half to capture Europa League crown
Shaun Botterill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chelsea stirred a sleepy all-English Europa League final with a second-half outburst in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Arsenal.

The opening stanza was played at a lethargic pace and to a decibel level usually reserved for meaningless preseason processions between middling Premier League teams. There were even empty seats in Baku, ensuring Azerbaijan's dress rehearsal for hosting four Euro 2020 matches was, as many forecasted, a disappointment.

Life was belatedly injected into the showdown in the second half when Olivier Giroud stooped low after 49 minutes to execute a sublime diving header against his former club. Sixteen minutes later, Chelsea were 3-0 ahead through Pedro's straightforward finish and an Eden Hazard penalty.

Alex Iwobi took out his frustrations on the ball with a smash from outside the area, but Hazard effectively ended the contest when he met Giroud's smart flick into the center with a ruthless first-time hit past Petr Cech.

Following the match, Hazard dropped his biggest hint yet that he's now bound for Real Madrid.

Arsenal will now prepare for a second straight season without Champions League football. Chelsea, meanwhile, already secured their spot in Europe's elite club competition through the team's final position in the Premier League.

Giroud, who spearheaded Maurizio Sarri's attack, represented the Gunners for five-and-a-half years before moving to their London rivals in January 2018.

"These two clubs changed my life, they gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League. I didn't want to celebrate against Arsenal but I am so proud to win this trophy with Chelsea," Giroud said after the final whistle, as reported by BBC Sport.

"When you give me the chance to get game time I always try my best. It was our second target to win the Europa League after finishing in the top four so I feel blessed."

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Chelsea overwhelm Arsenal in 2nd half to capture Europa League crown
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