Villarreal FC beat Manchester United in an epic penalty shootout in the Europa League final in Poland on Wednesday night after the match finished 1-1 in regular and extra time.
In the first European final to be played in front of a crowd in two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Villarreal FC survived a tough second half to secure a draw after extra time before going on to edge a tense shootout.
A nervy opening half-hour saw neither side fashion any real chances until Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno got on the tail end of a free kick into the penalty area and poked home past David De Gea in the Manchester United goal to give Unai Emery’s side the lead at half-time.
Edinson Cavani scored early in the second half to bring United level, pouncing on a loose ball at the top of the six-yard box and firing past Gerónimo Rulli to make it 1-1.
Villarreal were playing their first ever major final and coach Emery recognized United were favourites due to their more storied history, but urged his side to “keep breaking down barriers” after four semifinal exits.
After the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “It’s not a successful season of course,
“Sometimes one kick defines a season as a good one and sometimes a kick defines it’s not. Nobody expected us to finish second in the league but the boys came up just short tonight unfortunately.
“Trophies matter and that’s what matters at this club so no it’s not a successful season. It’s the short answer.”
United were the better side throughout the second half, but neither side was able to find a winner in regulation and the match went to extra time. The pace of the game continued into extra time and with no goals scored it was on to a penalty shootout to decide the Europa League winner.
The teams went back and forth in the shootout, with Villarreal keeper Rulli scoring his penalty attempt before De Gea missed his after all 10 outfield players from both teams had converted their spot kicks in the 11-10 shootout final.
The result means Man United have not won a title of any kind in four seasons, since last lifting the Europa League trophy in the 2016-17 campaign under Jose Mourinho.
Villarreal coach Emery secured a record fourth title in the competition after winning three Europa League wins with Sevilla.