Villarreal torpedo United to win Europa

·2-min read

Villarreal have been crowned Europa League champions as Manchester United's wait for their first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues.

In a remarkable shootout in which all outfield players scored their penalties it came down to a sudden-death contest between the goalkeepers.

With Geronimo Rulli saving David de Gea's penalty at the end of a marathon shootout to secure a historic 11-10 triumph for the unfancied La Liga club.

The win gave Villarreal coach Unai Emery a record fourth title in the competition - three of them with Sevilla from 2014 to 2016 - and secured his side a return to the Champions League.

"We worked hard this season and I think we deserved to win and to do something important," Emery said.

"We are going to enjoy each moment but above all we are going to prepare for the next season to prepare in the Champions League and have this opportunity with very big teams."

On this day 22 years ago, Solskjaer wrote himself into folklore when turning home at the death as Sir Alex Ferguson's United side fought back to win the Champions League and complete the treble.

But May 26, 2021 did not provide another triumphant chapter in United's success-laden story, with the match ending 1-1 and going to a penalty shootout after Edinson Cavani cancelled out Gerard Moreno's opener.

As Rulli lay on the grass after his save, his entire team ran over and piled on top of the Argentine.

It was an upset to savour as Villarreal - a team from a city of about 50,000 people and affectionately known as the Yellow Submarine - secured the first major trophy in their 98-year history.

It was a heartbreaking end to a promising season for United, who finished as Premier League runners-up and now have not won any silverware since their Europa triumph under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

"That's football for you. Sometimes it's decided on one kick, that's the difference between winning and losing sometimes," Solskjaer told BT Sport.

"We've got to learn from that one, got to not savour this feeling, but taste this feeling and make sure you don't get it again."

Defending set-pieces has been a problem for United and Moreno opened the scoring when all too easily meeting Dani Parejo's terrific free-kick.

Cavani levelled early in the second half after Marcus Rashford's volley fell kindly for him from close range and Villarreal clung on for extra-time, which Unai Emery's men edged before triumphing on penalties.

Villarreal's success-starved fans went wild at Stadion Gdansk, where you would not know there were only 9,500 in attendance given the noise throughout.

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