Table of Contents
Not to be
Manchester United will have to wait until next season to get their hands on some silverware after being beaten in the cruellest of fashions, drawing 1-1 in regulation but losing 11-10 in a penalty shootout.
Goals from Gerard Moreno and Edinson Cavani sent the match into extra time, where we saw an absolute clinic from both sides on how to take penalty kicks.
Every single on-field player successfully converted their spot-kicks, leaving it up to the two goalkeepers to take their side to European glory.
David de Gea, unfortunately, saw his kick saved by Geronimo Rulli as Villarreal captured their first Europa League title in club history.
After three consecutive seasons without a trophy, the Reds were keen to add their second Europa League title and had a good chance early on.
Marcus Rashford offloaded a lovely ball into the path of Scott McTominay.
The Scotsman took a touch and launched an excellent strike towards the goal in the seventh minute, but his effort went just wide of the left post.
Villarreal created an excellent opportunity at the 15-minute mark that nearly broke the deadlock.
Manu Trigueros did well to latch onto a deep cross from Dani Parejo off a corner, but his volley went just a little too high and sailed over the bar.
The Spaniards kept pressing and looked the hungrier side for much of the first half.
In the 23rd minute, a poor clearance by Paul Pogba as the ball fell to Carlos Bacca, who collected it on the left-inside channel.
He floated in a lovely cross towards Pau Torres, who failed to find the target as the header went over the bar.
In the 29th minute, Villareal took the lead.
A brilliant delivery from Parejo from the left flank was met brilliantly by Gerard, who made no mistake from close range, placing his effort beyond the reach of David de Gea.
United went into the half, failing to find an answer to the Spanish game.
El Submarino Amarillo came close to doubling their advantage early in the second half.
A dangerous cross by Alfonso Pedraza in the 48th minute found Bacca, but he failed to get a precise strike on goal, and the Reds eventually were able to clear away the danger.
In the 52nd minute, Mason Greenwood latched onto a lovely ball over the top from Bruno Fernandes.
The United teenager was taken down in the box by Pedraza, but after a VAR check, the referee decided not to award a penalty.
The Reds finally found an equaliser in the 55th minute.
A 20-yard drive from Rashford was deflected into the Villarreal penalty area.
Edinson Cavani reacted quicker than anyone else as he kept his composure and fired a close-range effort past Geronimo Rulli to put United on the board.
With twenty minutes to go, Rashford had an opportunity to put the Reds in front.
Bruno Fernandes played a brilliant ball to the Englishman six yards away, but the ordinarily dependable striker side-footed his effort wide.
However, it wouldn’t have counted as the flag was up for offside.
Rashford had another excellent opportunity in the 81st minute.
He did well to collect the ball on the left flank from Cavani and placed his effort well wide of the left post.
Neither side budged in the remaining nine minutes plus stoppage time, so the match went into extra time.
Into the first half of extra time, Villarreal enjoyed a lot more of the ball than they’d had during the opening 90 minutes.
In the 99th minute, Gerard latched onto an offload from Moi Gomez.
The Villarreal goalscorer had a good angle but sliced his effort just wide of the target.
A minute later and the Spaniards had another excellent opportunity.
Substitute Paco Alcacer collected the ball on the edge of the Man United box as he turned and fired a right-footed effort that blazed over the bar.
In the 113th minute, Villarreal kept pressing for a winner.
Moreno floated in a lovely cross towards Francis Coquelin, who nodded the ball down in the United box towards Gerard.
His strike towards goal struck the hand of Fred.
The referee reviewed it via VAR, but the ruling was no penalty and United were spared following a borderline handball.
No side could muster anything for the final seven minutes plus injury time, so that game went into a penalty shootout.
First up for Villarreal was Gerard Moreno, who sent de Gea the wrong way to give the Spaniards the advantage.
Juan Mata was the first taker for United, and he found the corner with an excellent left-footed strike.
Dani Raba was next, and like Moreno, he sent the United keeper the wrong way to make it 2-1.
Alex Telles, a late substitute for this moment, was next and fired in his shot with a powerful left-footed strike.
Paco Alcacer next fired a right-footed strike into the left-corner that de Gea got a hand to but couldn’t keep it out.
Bruno Fernandes was next, and like Alcacer, his shot was too powerful, and the keeper got a hand to it, but it still went in.
Alberto Moreno then fired a brilliant low left-footed strike into the right corner giving de Gea no chance.
Marcus Rashford took the fourth kick for the Reds.
He sent the keeper the wrong way and coolly slotted it into the left corner.
Dani Parejo was next and fired his shot beyond the reach of de Gea.
Edinson Cavani delivered and drilled his shot into the net to force sudden death with the pressure on.
The next shooter was Moi Gomez, who again sent de Gea the wrong way to give the Spaniards the lead.
Fred was next and, despite the pressure, fired his left-footed drive into the right corner.
The Villarreal skipper Raul Albiol next side-footed his effort into the right corner.
Daniel James answered right back, finding the corner to make it 7-7.
Francis Coquelin then found the top corner with his right foot to put the pressure on United.
Luke Shaw was next and fired a left-footed drive.
The keeper got a hand to, but it squeezed under him to keep the Reds alive.
Mario Gaspar then fired his shot over de Gea’s outstretched arms to give Villarreal the lead.
Axel Tuanzebe was next and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 9-9.
Pau Torres then side-footed his shot beyond de Gea’s reach and it was 10-9.
Victor Lindelof made it 10-10 as he found the corner.
Then it was down to the goalkeepers, with Villarreal’s Geronimo Rulli stepping up first and scoring.
David de Gea was next.
His side-footed effort was hit well but saved.
Man of the Match
Gerard Moreno had himself a splendid match upfront, scored the lone goal over 120 minutes, and had several good scoring opportunities.
He put together a clinical penalty in the shootout and was an all-around menace for the Spaniards throughout the match.
A penalty shootout is something the Reds have had their struggles with.
With today’s result, the Reds have now lost six of their last seven penalty shootouts in all competitions.
Their only victory in that span was a shootout win in the Carabao Cup against Rochdale in 2019.
The wait goes on
This heart-breaking defeat will extend Man United’s trophy drought to four seasons.
The Reds have not won a trophy of any kind since capturing the Europa League in 2016-17.
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, the club have come close to earning some silverware.
Last season they lost out in three semi-finals, and they lost in another one earlier this year to Manchester City.
Setting new records
With this Europa League triumph, Villarreal boss Unai Emery set a new landmark for victories in this competition.
The former Arsenal manager has now won four Europa League/UEFA Cup titles as a coach.
He surpasses Italian Giovanni Trapattoni for most trophies in this competition with today’s win.
One for One
With this victory, Villarreal become the first team to win this trophy in their first appearance since Shakhtar Donetsk triumphed in their first attempt in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup.
Following the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his team could never really get their foothold on this game.
“We’ve got to taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again. We didn’t turn up. I think we started alright. They got the goal with the only shot they had on target. I was disappointed we conceded on a set play, of course. We pushed, we pressed, we scored. But after we got the goal, we couldn’t control the game and dominate as we wanted.”
Next, many of these players will report to their national teams ahead of the Euros, which begin on Friday, June 11.
The next Premier League campaign starts on the weekend of Saturday, August 14. (JSL).