Villarreal claimed a shock Europa League triumph after a thrilling penalty shootout in Poland. Unai Emery's side were the huge underdogs, but took the lead after 29 minutes when Gerard Moreno hit home Dani Parejo's free-kick. Edinson Cavani levelled for United 10 minutes into the second half after Rashford's deflected volley found the Uruguayan.
United pressed for the rest of the 90 minutes, but were unable to find a winner and in extra-time, it all changed. Solskjaer had not made any changes compared to Villarreal five and United's weary legs were plain to see. The game went to penalties with three penalty specialists being brought on: Dani Raba for Villarreal and Juan Mata and Alex Telles for Man Utd. All the penalties kept being scored until David de Gea saw his poor spot kick saved by the keeper. Watching the game, the victory was no fluke.
Man Utd started the better from the off and Scott McTominay hit wide of the post with seven minutes on the clock. Luke Shaw also had a pop with 20 minutes gone, but could not hit the target. That summed up United's first half as they struggled to have clear shots on target despite plenty of pressure.
Gerard Moreno headed over after an outrageous Carlos Bacca rabona and then Villarreal hit the front on 29 minutes. Dani Parejo delivered a free-kick into the box and Gerard Moreno got to the ball ahead of Lindelof to turn the ball into the back of the net from just outside the six yard box. Villarreal took their chance and United had work to do. United continue to press and Mason Greenwood's cross nearly went in off Raul Albiol, but Solskjaer's men trailed at the break.
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May 26, 2021
In the second half, Villarreal very nearly scored after Pedraza's deflected cross saw pinball ensue in the United box and then, United were extremely unlucky not to have a spot kick when Alfonso Pedraza clearly kicked Mason Greenwood in the box. Just moments later, United got their equaliser when Shaw's corner was only half cleared, Rashford's volley hit legs in the area and Cavani was there in the right place at the right time to hit home.
United looked more likely to get a winner in normal time and Bruno Fernandes had an effort first before Edinson Cavani so nearly won it in the 71st minute when he headed Luke Shaw's cross goalwards, but Pau Torres headed away.
Pau Torres curled a shot wide of the goal deep into stoppage time and Villarreal carried that momentum on into extra time. United looked very tired and Villarreal seemed more likely to score, but there were few clear cut chances. Paco Alcacer hit over the goal in the 100th minute was probably the closest either side came while Villarreal rightly had a penalty shout turned down seven minutes from time as Fred had his arms by his side.
The game then went to penalties and after a combination of sensational penalties such as Coquelin's and Pau Torres' and some which should have been saved like those from Alcacer, Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw, it was 10-10 and time for the keepers. Geronimo Rulli kept his cool to beat his opposite number while David de Gea's was a very tame effort. The penalty save meant Villarreal won the Europa League in a historic night for Villarreal after an unforgettable penalty shootout.
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