David de Gea misses crucial penalty as Untied concede defeat to Villarreal
2020-21 Europa League final:
Villarreal l Manchester United 1 – Gdansk, Poland – Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Villarreal win 11-10 on penalties
Gerard Moreno (29m), Edinson Cavani (55m)
The end to the Europa League finals came when United goalkeeper David De Gea failed to convert the 22nd attempt of a marathon penalty shoot-out after both sides finished on 1-1 after 120 minutes of a contest that totally lacked in quality.
In the first European final to be played in front of a crowd in over a year, totalling 9,400 spectators at the Stadion Energa, the first half hour had a nervy edge to it with the real breakthrough coming from Gerard Moreno who slide in time to steer a first-time kick past De Gea off Daniel Parejo's free-kick to give the La Liga side the lead in the 29th minute and his 30th goal of the season.
For that they will remain indebted to their Uruguyan striker Edinson Cavani for more than once as he pounced on a loose ball on top of the six-yard box and fired past goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli to draw level ten minutes into the second half.
Cavani was now creating panic among the Villareal back-line as he was regularly getting into onside positions as rival yellow shirts flooded the box and United went in search of an instant second with Bruno Fernandes hammering a loose ball across goal, flashing inches away from the reach of the opportunistic Uruguayan.
Villarreal center-back Pau Torres then pulled off a spectacular goal-line save from a bullet close-ranged header from Cavani off a wayward Luke Shaw shot into the area.
With United doing most of the talking, Villarreal's second-half forays were muted in nature with Moreno missing a crack at the goal from distance – their first attempt post-interval to United's six.
The momentum was very much with the Red Devils, though, as Scott McTominay drove them forward in search of a winner, feeding Shaw down the left before his cross was headed over by Paul Pogba.
But Villarreal seemed geared up for the late United onslaught that somehow did not produce a goal as referee Clement Turpin signalled for play to go into extra time after the stipulated 90 minutes.
The sad part for Gunnar Ole Solksjaer was that he went in with his strongest offensive starting XI, leaving no one in the bench who could rectify the situation as the match drifted on.
Although the goal would have been ruled offside, Rashford was not known to let go of such easy opportunities.
Villarreal starting XI playing in a 4-4-2 formation: Geronimo Rulli (goal), Juan Foyth, Raul Albiol (C), Pau Torres, Alfonso Pedraza, Daniel Parejo, Etienne Capoue, Manuel Trigueros, Gerard Moreno, Carlos Bacca, Yeremi Pino.
Manchester United starting XI playing in a 4-2-3-1 XI: David de Gea (goal), Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes (C), Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood.
Man of the match: Scott McTominay.
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