Villarreal outlasted Manchester United to lift Europa League
Villarreal outlasted Manchester United 11-10 in a penalty shootout to win the 2021 Europa League after a 1-1 draw in the Final on Wednesday night at the Stadion Miejski in Gdansk, Poland.
It marks the first European title in Villarreal‘s history and it could not have come in more dramatic circumstances, with Villarreal converting all 11 of their penalty attempts, the final one from goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, who then saved counterpart David De Gea‘s penalty to secure the crown.
Manchester United came out the stronger of the two and had Villarreal pegged back in their own half to start, but soon enough the Yellow Submarine started to surge forward and Pau Torres had a decent look via header after a rabona cross from Carlos Bacca.
Villarreal continued to grow into the match and broke the deadlock just shy of the hour mark with Gerard Moreno getting on the end of a perfect free-kick from Dani Parejo and redirecting into goal for a 1-0 Villarreal lead.
With the goal in their back pocket, Villarreal were content to sit back, stay compact and wait for United to come forward in hopes of exposing the Premier League side on the counter to end the first 45 minutes.
Unai Emery‘s men had a more protagonist approach to start the second stanza and nearly snuck in a second when a mad scramble in front of goal almost led to a Bacca score.
The second goal of the night would also come from a dead ball, this time on a United corner kick that Villarreal failed to clear and Cavani was there to pounce on a rebound and fire home to make it 1-1.
Emery went to his bench for the first time on the hour mark, with former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin on for Bacca, but the momentum stayed with United, who looked the more energetic and aggressive side.
Cavani looked set to score his second of the night off a cross from Luke Shaw, but the Uruguayan’s header was headed away by Pau Torres to spare the Spaniards.
Paco Alcacer was next summoned by Emery to try to make a difference in place of Yeremy Pino, plus Moi Gomez for Manu Trigueros. That was followed by Alberto Moreno for Pedraza and Mario Gaspar for Juan Foyth.
Neither side could find a winner though before full-time, so matters went to extra time when United finally made their first sub, with Fred on for Greenwood.
Villarreal picked up the pace in the extra period, but were never able to truly trouble De Gea in the United goal, so penalties had to settle things.
Incredibly, both sides converted their first 10 attempts, bringing the two goalkeepers into play. Rulli calmly converted for Villarreal and then promptly saved De Gea‘s shot, giving Villarreal the crown.
1.- Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth (Mario Gaspar, min. 88), Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (Moreno, min. 88); Capoue (Raba, min. 123), Parejo, Trigueros (Moi Gomez, min. 77); Yeremy (Alcacer, min. 77), Gerard Moreno, Bacca (Coquelin, min. 60).
1.- Manchester United: De Gea; Wan Bissaka (Mata, min. 122), Lindelof, Bailly (Tuanzebe, min. 116), Shaw; McTominay (Telles, min. 123), Pogba (James, min. 166), Bruno Fernandes; Rashford, Greenwood (Fred, min. 100), Cavani.
Goals: 1-0, min. 29: Gerard Moreno; 1-1, min. 56: Cavani
Referee: Clement Turpin (France). Yellow cards: Capoue (Min. 54) for Villarreal, Bailly (Min. 82) for Manchester United, Foyth (Min. 84) for Villarreal, Cavani (Min. 113) for Manchester United. (MARCA)