Chelsea, Arsenal Reach Europa League Quarter-Final

BEVERLY HILLS, March 15, (THEWILL) – Olivier Giroud scored a hat-trick as Chelsea cruised into the Europa League quarter-finals with an 8-0 aggregate thrashing of Dynamo Kiev on Thursday, while Napoli also booked a last-eight spot.

After a 3-0 victory in last week’s last 16, first leg at Stamford Bridge, 2013 winners Chelsea were even more dominant in Kiev despite manager Maurizio Sarri ringing the changes, thumping the Ukrainians 5-0.

The Premier League giants are bidding for a first trophy under the Italian after losing last month’s English League Cup final to Manchester City, and hoping to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Giroud, who is yet to start in the Premier League in 2019 after the signing of Gonzalo Higuain, netted a first-half double, before Marcos Alonso slid home a third on the stroke of half-time.

Frenchman Giroud completed his first Chelsea hat-trick by heading home Willian’s free-kick just before the hour mark and is now the leading scorer in this year’s competition with nine goals.

Teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi continued his own fine Europa League form, slotting in his fourth goal of the tournament after racing clear with 12 minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, Arsenal manager Unai Emery hailed his side’s ability to cope under pressure after they came back from a 3-1 loss in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie.

They beat French side Rennes 3-0 on Thursday to advance 4-3 on aggregate to the quarter-finals of Europe’s second-tier club competition.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck either side of an Ainsley Maitland-Niles goal as the North London side joined local rivals Chelsea.

Arsenal became only the second team in Europa League history to win a tie after losing the first leg 3-1.

“This comeback was very difficult, but I think the reaction was very good from every player,” Emery told reporters.

“We can be proud of our players today because it was a very difficult week — (Manchester) United on Sunday and today against Rennes.”

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