Football | Villareal defeat Man United on penalties to win the Europa League

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Villarreal have beaten Manchester United 11-10 on penalties to win the 2020/21 Europa League final in in Gdansk.

David de Gea missed the decisive penalty in the shootout following a 1-1 draw in Poland, which saw Gerard Moreno give Villareal the lead in the first half before Edinson Cavani drew United level in the 55th minute.

An astounding penalty shootout aside, it was a disappointing final that lacked the quality that it normally would bring and produced only three shots on target across 120 minutes.

All 20 outfield players converted their penalties in the longest shootout in an UEFA competition, as in an increasingly tense stadium Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli blasted home his effort and then denied De Gea to secure Villareal’s first ever major trophy. 

The result also sees former Arsenal manager Uni Emery win the competition for a fourth time, while United’s barren run without a trophy has now stretched to four years, on the night of Sir Matt Busby’s birthday and the anniversary of the famous 1999 Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich which earned current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hero status amounts the Old Trafford fans.

Truth been told it was a very lacklustre performance from the Red Devils.

Gerard Moreno gave the Spanish side the lead on the half hour mark with Villareal’s only shot on target after United were caught sleeping at the back from Daniel Parejo’s free-kick towards the back post. Spanish international Moreno pulled away from the United defence, allowing him to have a free strike at goal, firing his effort past de Gea. 

The leveller came ten minutes after the interval as Cavani once again fired home from close range The Uruguayan reacted quickest to a deflection in the box from Marcus Rashford’s low strike, and fired the shot past Rulli from 10 yards. 

The sides were level at the end of full time and off to extra time it went. 

Chances in extra time were held to a premium as both sides created very little scoring opportunities and in the end it all came down to a penalty shootout. 

After 20 largely excellent penalties, Rulli dispatched his spot kick with ease before, de Gea – who was restored to the starting line up for the final – ending up missing therefore crowing Villarreal as the new Europa League champions.

They will now face either Manchester City or Chelsea, who contest the Champions League Final this weekend, in the UEFA Super Cup on August 11th.  

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