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Hazard ruled out of Europa League final

By Football News



Chelsea's Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard leaves the pitch after being sent off by referee Chris Foy after an incident involving a ball boy during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Swansea City and Chelsea at The Liberty stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on January 23, 2013
Chelsea's Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard leaves the pitch after being sent off by referee Chris Foy after an incident involving a ball boy during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Swansea City and Chelsea at The Liberty stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on January 23, 2013

Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard will miss Wednesday's UEFA Europa League final against Benfica due to a calf injury.

The 22-year-old Belgium international was injured in Saturday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa and will miss Chelsea's biggest game of the season in Amsterdam.

Hazard – who has scored 13 goals in 61 appearances for Chelsea this season – was ruled out by interim manager Rafael Benitez at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. The Spaniard also confirmed that club captain John Terry was still in doubt with an ankle injury, and that his involvement would be judged at the last minute.

Benitez said: "Hazard will not be available. John still will try and see how he feels but we will decide tomorrow.

"Now it is not easy for him, obviously it is not the best injury but we will see today and tomorrow with the medical staff, and after we will decide."

Benitez has come in for regular criticism from Chelsea's supporters, despite leading them to victory in 26 of his 46 matches in charge of the club, and he has already announced he will be leaving the club at season's end. Despite that, the former Liverpool and Valencia manager said he would be "really proud" if he manages to deliver a European trophy to the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet. Benitez also praised Benfica, and manager Jorge Jesus, and knows that defeating the Portuguese side will not be easy in the Dutch capital.

"This is the final and I want to win. If we can do it I will be really proud because we worked so hard in difficult circumstances," he said.

"You have to give credit to all the people involved, the staff and the players. A European final is massive. Maybe you can score an early goal and change, or concede three and have to change at half-time. You have to have confidence and belief you can do well.

"Jorge Jesus is a good manager, they are a good team and they have experience in Europe. In a final it is 50-50 and we will see what happens. We can make changes, they can make changes, but in the end it depends on the players on the pitch."