Villarreal defeated Manchester United 11-10 on penalties to win their first major trophy after a 1-1 draw in the Europa League last as goalkeeper David de Gea missed the decisive spot-kick in a significant shootout. Gerard Moreno gave Villarreal the lead 29 minutes into the Spanish club’s first European last, but Edinson Cavani equalised early in the second one half before Unai Emery’s team prevailed on spot-kicks, extending United’s four-year trophy drought. Eric Bailly replaced the injured Harry Maguire in central defence, with the United captain surprisingly named a number of the substitutes despite suffering ankle ligament damage two weeks ago.
De Gea started ahead of Dean Henderson in goal, while Paul Pogba took up a more orthodox midfield role as Fred was once only deemed fit enough for a spot on the bench.
An early collision between Juan Foyth and Pogba left the former Tottenham defender bloodied but both sides were slow to click into gear on a damp and chilly night on the Baltic coast.
Carlos Bacca’s intelligent rabona cross created an possibility for Pau Torres, the centre-back linked with a summer move to United, while Marcus Rashford tested Geronimo Rulli with a dipping effort from distance.
Yeremy Pino, who at 18 years and 218 days broke Iker Casillas’ record as the youngest Spanish player to begin a major European last, scuffed wide on the counter, but Villarreal were soon ahead.
Dani Parejo swung in a free-kick from the left and Moreno peeled absent from Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof, steering beyond De Gea as the Swede desperately tugged at his shirt.
Moreno’s 82nd goal for Villarreal equalled the club record of former Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi.
But it also sparked a reaction from United, as a battling Scott McTominay watched his shot deflected over before Mason Greenwood burst into the area and sent in a fizzing cross that Raul Albiol almost diverted into his own net.
Another Parejo set-piece caused panic in the United box correct after half-time, Manu Trigueros crossing back towards goal before the ball was once scrambled lucid with Moreno and Carlos Bacca lurking dangerously.
Alfonso Pedraza was once possibly lucky no further action was once taken when he seemed to catch Greenwood in the Villarreal area, even if United benefitted from a slice of luck to level.
A headed clearance at a corner dropped to Rashford, whose dragged volley ricocheted into the path of Cavani to stab home with Rulli unable to recuperate after anticipating the initial shot.
It was once the Uruguayan’s sixth goal of the competition this season, all coming in his past four matches, and one that handed United the momentum.
Bruno Fernandes drilled wide as Cavani tried in useless to readjust with the ball flashing by, and the striker then headed straight at Torres from Shaw’s miscued shot.
United continued to dominate possession as Villarreal soaked up the pressure, but the Spaniards remained a threat as Torres curled over at the end of normal time.
Alberto Moreno slashed wide as United began to tire, prompting Solskjaer to make his first change after 100 minutes as Fred replaced Greenwood.
Weariness and a raft of substitutions slowed the tempo in the closing stages as the rain intensified with penalties nearly inevitable.
The first 21 penalties were successfully converted before De Gea had his attempt palmed absent by Rulli as United missing for the sixth time in seven shootouts, handing Emery a record fourth Europa League crown.
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