David de Gea missed the only penalty of a marathon shootout as Villarreal won the Europa League with victory over Manchester United at Gdansk Stadium.
Gerard Moreno opened the scoring in the first half of a poor final in Poland on Wednesday to move level with Giuseppe Rossi as the Yellow Submarine’s leading all-time goalscorer with 82 – 30 of which have come this season.
Edinson Cavani equalised early in the second half with his sixth goal in five Europa League games for United and the two sides remained level at 1-1 after extra time.
There had been an astonishing 21 successful spot-kicks until United goalkeeper De Gea’s tame effort was kept out by his opposite number Geronimo Rulli, with Villarreal winning the shootout 11-10.
Villarreal go into the Champions League next season after winning their first major European trophy, with head coach Unai Emery having lifted this trophy an incredible four times.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on the other hand, remains without a trophy during his tenure after a flat performance from United.
Villarreal win an epic penalty shoot-out to become Europa League winners for the first time!
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 26, 2021
Scott McTominay dragged a shot wide, while Juan Foyth was left with blood pouring from his nose and a bandage on his head after an accidental collision with Paul Pogba in a frantic start.
Luke Shaw flashed a drive across the face of the Villarreal goal but it was the LaLiga side who took the lead courtesy of the prolific Moreno after 29 minutes.
The lively frontman capitalised on slack United defending to prod home Dani Parejo’s inviting free-kick with his right foot, becoming the first Villarreal player to score at least 30 goals in a season since Rossi in the 2010-11 campaign.
A VAR verdict was no penalty when Alfonso Pedraza just nipped in to get the ball ahead of Mason Greenwood early in the second half.
The Red Devils were level 10 minutes after the break, though, as Villarreal failed to deal with an outswinging corner from Shaw and Cavani pounced, stabbing in from six yards out.
Marcus Rashford somehow failed to find the back of the net from close range with only Geronimo Rulli to beat with United well on top, although Bruno Fernandes appeared to be offside before delivering the cross.
Cavani’s improvised header struck Pau Torres, who drilled over the crossbar in added time when he had a chance to snatch victory for Villarreal against the run of play.
Alberto Moreno sliced the first opportunity of extra time wide, with the Yellow Submarine looking more threatening and the Red Devils appearing to run out of steam.
Neither side had the quality to force a winner and although the standard of penalties was higher than the action that had gone before, Rulli dived to his left to keep out a weak De Gea strike to ensure Villarreal could celebrate their finest hour.
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