UEFA Europa League 2020-21 final: Villarreal beats United on penalties, lifts maiden European title
This was Villarreal's maiden European final while winning the crown on its first attempt. Also, this was manager Unai Emery's fourth UEFA Europa League title, having won the previous three with Spanish side Sevilla, while he remains the most successful manager in the competition.
English gaint Manchester United succumbed yet again to another penalty shootout. It was beaten 10-11 on penalties by Spanish side Villarreal in the final of the UEFA Europa League 2020-21 on Wednesday Stadion Energa Gdańsk. It was Villarreal's maiden European title win on its maiden final appearance.
As for United, it scripted yet another titleless season, despite having had their best season under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Meanwhile, Villarreal boss Unai Emery continued his glorious run in the tournament, winning his fourth title.
The game began on an attacking note, with six attempts being made until the 23rd minute. However, Gerard Moreno put Villarreal ahead, six minutes later, thanks to his header off Daniel Parejo's assist to the bottom right, as it maintained the lead at half-time.
The second half saw United up its ante. There were a couple of attacks from either until the 54th minute before Edinson Cavani allowed United to level in the very next minute, following an assist from Scott McTominay. Although there were four more promising attempts made in the half, United had the upper hand throughout before settling with the deadlock in the regulation time.
At the extra time, it was a surprising approach from United that tried just to defend it out initially. While Villarreal made a couple of attacks in the first 15 minutes, it was United in the latter 15, as it produced three encouraging attacks, but to no avail.
It was an intense yet all-out attack in the penalities, as all the ten players managed to put the ball into the net. In the end, when it came to the two goalkeeper's chance to have a shot, while Villarreal Geronimo Rulli put it past David de Gea, the latter's was denied by the former, thus handing the Yellow Submarine its first European title.
Stats from the match
- Mason Greenwood of United made his 52nd appearance of the season, the joint-most by a teenager in the top-five leagues across Europe for the season, alongside Pedri of Barcelona.
- Moreno became the first Villarreal player since Giuseppe Rossi in 2010-11 (32) scored 30-plus goals in a season across competitions.
- Cavani is the third 34-aged player to score in a European final for an English side after Gary McAllister (36) and Didier Drogba (34).
- It was United's sixth loss in the previous seven penalty shootouts, last beating Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup last season.
- It was Emery's fourth UEFA Europa League title, while he remains the most successful manager in the competition.
- In the last ten major European final appearances, the Spanish sides have beaten their English opponents, with United losing on four such occasions.
Solskjær: "It's quiet, a disappointed dressing room. That's football for you. Sometimes it's decided on one kick - and that's the difference between winning and losing. We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don't get it again."
Rashford: "People say a lot about Man Utd going downhill, blah, blah, blah, blah but for me, the club, desire, hunger, talent, ability, the squad, we have everything to compete at the highest level. We just have to show it to the world and ourselves, show why we belong in the top places and why we need to win finals like this."
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