Chelsea FC have entered the UEFA Europa League twice in the last decade and have won it on both occasions. In fact, when we look at the competition solely in its guise as the Europa League (since 2009), Chelsea have won it every single time they have ever played in it. Not a bad strike rate it is fair to say!
In the modern era, the Blues have typically been playing at a level above the second-tier European competition, and the fact that both of these entrances resulted in them lifting the trophy is testament to this. Overall, including in its previous incarnation as both the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the UEFA Cup, Chelsea have qualified for the competition a total of eight times, as they appeared three times when it was the Fairs Cup and also made three consecutive appearances in the early 2000s, all of which ended in the group stage.
What Years Did Chelsea Win the Europa League?
Chelsea’s only successes in this tournament have come during its current branding as the Europa League. Prior to that their best showing was way back in 1965/66 when they were beaten in the Fairs Cup by Barcelona 5-0 in a single-legged replay after the two-legged semi ended all square.
- Manager: Rafa Benitez
- Score in Final: 2-1
- Attendance: 46,163 (Amsterdam Arena)
- Runners Up: Benfica
In the 2012/13 campaign, Chelsea became the first ever Champions League title holders to drop down to the Europa League, having come third in their UCL group. They finished behind Juventus and Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, a real disappointment for the Blues. It did, however, lead to the West Londoners completing the remarkable and currently unmatched feat of winning the Europa League the season after winning the Champions League.
Their road to glory didn’t start off the smoothest, however, as the Blues scraped past Sparta Prague, Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti and Rubin Kazan 2-1, 3-2 and 5-4 respectively, in the knockouts. In the semi-finals, Chelsea’s form picked up, as they breezed past FC Basel 5-2 to book a place in the final, which was to be played at the Amsterdam Arena, home of Ajax. Their opponents were Portuguese giants Benfica, who had also finished third in their Champions League group, and were hoping to lift the trophy for the first time.
Down to the Last Minute
Benitez’s side were somewhat weakened by the losses of Eden Hazard and captain John Terry, both through injury, going into the final. However, after a goalless first half, the Blues were able to take the lead through Fernando Torres, who was able to round the keeper after a fantastic through ball from Juan Mata had left “El Niño” free to tap the ball into an open net.
Unfortunately for the Pensioners, this was a short-lived lead, as Benfica made it 1-1 just eight minutes later. A handball from Cesar Azpilicueta had provided the Portuguese side with a penalty, which was converted by Oscar Cardozo. With a minute left of stoppage time, the game sat at 1-1. This was until, reminiscent of Didier Drogba’s legendary header the season prior, Branislav Ivanovic rose from a, you guessed it, Juan Mata corner, and nodded home to clinch victory for the Blues. This was Chelsea’s first appearance in a Europa League final, and it was a resounding success, providing redemption after their failed attempt at defending their Champions League title.
- Manager: Maurizio Sarri
- Score in Final: 4-1
- Attendance: 51,370 (Baku Olympic Stadium)
- Runners Up: Arsenal
Chelsea’s next entrance into the Europa League came six seasons later, in the 2018/19 campaign, with the Blues now under chain-smoking Italian boss Maurizio Sarri, in his solitary season as manager. Chelsea waltzed through the group stage, finishing top with 16 points, winning five games and drawing one.
Their red-hot form continued into the knockouts, as Sarri’s side defeated Malmo, Dynamo Kyiv and Slavia Prague 5-1,8-0 and 5-3 respectively, to progress to the semi-finals. Their opponents in the semis were Eintracht Frankfurt, and the German side provided the Blues with their first and only real challenge of the entire competition. Both legs of the tie finished 1-1, with the second clash going to a penalty shootout that the London side were able to win 4-3.
This propelled Chelsea to a second Europa League final, which was to be played at the Olympic Stadium in Baku. Their opponents were Arsenal, which made it the first ever Europa League final contested between two teams from the same city. Sadly for the fans, that city happened to be around 3,000 miles away from the host venue, making travel a real nightmare. The Gunners were hoping to win their first major European honour, having previously lost in the 1999/00 final to Galatasaray but it wasn’t to be.
London Teams Battle It Out Abroad
Despite both teams having a couple of chances, including Granit Xhaka hitting the crossbar, the first half passed largely without incident, as some 51,370 spectators watched on. However, the tone quickly changed in the second half, as the Blues took the lead four minutes after the break through Olivier Giroud, as the French marksman, signed from Arsenal, scored an excellent header to make it 1-0 to Chelsea.
Only 10 minutes later, Pedro doubled the Blues’ lead, as the West London side began to dominate the game. In the 65th minute, just five minutes after Pedro’s strike, Chelsea were awarded a penalty for a foul on Giroud. Eden Hazard stepped up and coolly sent ex-Chelsea stopper Petr Cech the wrong way, making it 3-0 and effectively putting the game out of reach, bar a miracle.
Unsurprisingly, this miracle never arrived, although Alex Iwobi did fire in a fantastic effort from the edge of the box to pull it back to 3-1, however, this was only a consolation for the forlorn Gunners. The in-form Hazard was quick to respond to Iwobi’s goal, scoring his second of the game and securing a second Europa League trophy for the Blues, as well as helping the Belgian pick up the Man of the Match award in the process.
Who Is Chelsea’s Top Scorer in the Europa League?
Chelsea’s appearances in the Europa League have been few and far between as they have usually qualified for the Champions League. As we have seen, the only two times that they have made it out of the group stage, they have won the overall competition.
Their top scorer, Olivier Giroud, therefore only has 11 goals in the competition, but considering that this was achieved in just 14 games, it is a very impressive record. In second place is Fernando Torres, with six, all of which were scored in the 2012/13 campaign, including scoring in the final of that year’s competition. In terms of appearances, Cesar Azpilicueta is top of the pile, which is largely down to the fact that he was one of very few players to be part of both Europa League-winning Chelsea sides, and he racked up 17 appearances over those two seasons.
Are Chelsea Likely to Win the Europa League Soon?
Based on the Blues’ form in the competition over the last decade, that being that they have entered it twice and have emerged as champions on both occasions, you would assume that they are highly likely to win it again. However, the main issue preventing them from repeating this feat is that they are now probably too good, and therefore will most likely continue to qualify for the Champions League every year.
If Chelsea were to now drop down into the Europa League, this would feel like an enormous disappointment, a real step backwards under Thomas Tuchel, who has already won the UCL during his short time at the club. However, should Chelsea participate in the Europa League, whether that came due to finishing third in their Champions League group, or outside of the top four in the Premier League, they would certainly have an excellent chance of winning the competition once again