Manchester United defeated by Villarreal in the epic final of the Europa League Yorkshire News

Geronimo Rulli of Villarreal celebrates saving the penalty from Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea (Image: PA)

On this day, 22 years ago, the Norwegian was inscribed in club folklore when he returned home from death as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team battled to win the Champions League and complete the treble.

But May 26, 2021, did not provide another triumphant chapter in United’s success story, with the game ending 1-1 and leading to a penalty shootout after Edinson Cavani canceled Gerard Moreno’s opener.

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All outfield players scored their point kicks, as did Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli before saving De Gea’s penalty to win the 11-10 penalty shootout and secure the first major trophy in their history.

Villarreal celebrate their victory in the UEFA Europa League final, at the stadium in Gdansk, Poland. (Image: PA)

It was a heartbreaking end to a promising season for United, who finished as Premier League runners-up and showed clear signs of progress.

But defending set pieces has been a problem at all times and Moreno opened the scoring when he found himself too easily with Dani Parejo’s tremendous free kick.

Cavani leveled early in the second half after a Marcus Rashford volley graciously landed at point-blank range and Villarreal held on to extra time, which Unai Emery’s men overcame before triumphing on penalties.

Bruno Fernandes was United’s captain in the Europa League final, as Harry Maguire was named among the substitutes.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes (left), Alex Telles (center) and Fred gesture to fans during the UEFA Europa League final, at the stadium in Gdansk, Poland. (Image: PA)

England center-back Maguire looked on the verge of missing the team after not training on Tuesday due to an ankle ligament injury, but was named to the bench in Gdansk, where Victor Lindelof started alongside Eric Bailly.

De Gea got the nod over Dean Henderson in goal, while Solskjaer opened. Paul Pogba started alongside Scott McTominay in midfield, as Fred had to settle for a spot on the bench.

Carlos Bacca teamed with Moreno in the attack, while former Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue and Tottenham loan officer Juan Foyth were also named in the starting lineup.

Villarreal and United got off to a cautious, goalless start in the 25th minute in Gdansk.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes speaks with goalkeeper David de Gea (right) during the UEFA Europa League final, at the Gdansk Stadium, Poland. (Image: PA)

Solskjaer’s men got off to a strong start and McTominay crawled away, with Luke Shaw watching a cross fly just out of reach of his teammates.

Marcus Rashford attempted a long-range effort and Pau Torres headed in from Bacca’s outrageous rabona center at the other end.

Villarreal opened the scoring in the 29th minute when United’s soft belly returned to haunt them once more.

Cavani gave away a free kick that Dani Parejo took from the left, and Moreno went too easily ahead of Lindelof to lead home.

Solskjaer was furious on the touchline when set pieces cost United again, whose response was tame as they lacked attacking spark and dynamism.

Rashford saw a dangerous cross cut off after excellent injury time skill, before Greenwood lunged down the right to punch a cross that Raúl Albiol almost made his own goal.

United made it 1-1 in the 55th minute, when Rashford volleyed a Villarreal punt from Shaw’s corner into the goal. The shot bounced off Alfonso Pedraza and McTominay, missing goalkeeper Rulli as Cavani reacted to turn home from six yards.

United enjoyed a strong run and Rashford squandered a good opportunity to overtake them in the 70th minute when he fired wide from close range after a pass from Fernandes.

Villarreal: Rulli, Foyth (Mario 88), Albiol, Torres, Pedraza (Moreno 88), Pino (Alcacer 77), Capoue (Raba 120), Parejo, Trigueros (Moi Gomez 77), Gerard, Bacca (Coquelin 60). Unused substitutes: Sergio Asenjo, Funes Mori, Estupinan, Pena, Jaume, Nino.

Man Utd: de Gea, Wan Bissaka (Mata 120), Bailly (Tuanzebe 116), Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay (Alex Telles 120), Pogba (James 115), Greenwood (Fred 100), Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani. Unused substitutes: Maguire, Grant, Diallo, Henderson, Matic, Williams, van de Beek.

Referee: C Turpin (Burgundy).

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This notice was published: 2021-05-26 22:25:47