Euro 2020 Special

Europa League: Villarreal Triumph After Dramatic Penalty Shootout

Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United (11-10 on pens)

Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli scored the deciding penalty in a marathon shootout to give the Yellow Submarine the 2021 Europa League title.

It was a dramatic finish as the first 20 spot kicks all hit the net; Rulli scored his and then he returned to his natural position to save from his opposite number David de Gea.

From the moment Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League, losing to Red Bull Leipzig in December, the Europa League 2021 betting odds pitched the Red Devils as hot favourites to win the tournament they last won in 2017, but they struggled to dominate a well organised Villarreal who went ahead through Gerard Moreno.

Villarreal saw off Premier League side Arsenal to make it to the final and though Edinson Cavani levelled for the Red Devils, Unai Emery’s team had the measure of this Premier side and ran out worthy champions.


Highlights of the game

Villarreal started brightly with Dani Parejo dictating play and passing the ball crisply, while Manchester United were happy to sit back in the early stages. But as the game progressed the Red Devils began to press higher and bring their wing-backs into play. Aaron Wan-Bissaka pinged a cross in for Edinson Cavani but his effort was cleared and Luke Shaw whistled a shot just wide of the Villarreal post.

The Spaniards continued to cause United a few problems and Yeremi Pino had a shot blocked by Scott McTominay, while Carlos Bacca tested the United defence with his tricky runs. And in the half-hour, Villarreal got their reward. Parejo was fouled by Cavani some 35 yards out and he delivered the free-kick into the danger area where Gerard held off a challenge from Victor Lindelof to score.

That made it 30 goals in all competitions for Moreno who finished joint second top scorer in La Liga, level with Karim Benzema and behind only Lionel Messi.

The Yellows had a great chance to double their lead in the opening minutes of the second half when Alfonso Pedraza volleyed a ball across the United penalty area, and when it fell to Bacca the United defenders blocked desperately to keep him out. At the other end of the pitch, Mason Greenwood appealed for a penalty but VAR was unmoved, but United got their equaliser on 55 minutes when Marcus Rashford fired a ball in which took a couple of deflections before Cavani poked home from close range.

But that was it for the 90 minutes and extra time produced very little in terms of goalmouth action and so we went to penalties.

Europa League: Edinson Cavani has scored his first-ever goal in a European final
Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani celebrates with his teammates after scoring an equaliser against Villarreal


The shootout

Gerard stepped up to take Villarreal’s first penalty and slammed it home and Juan Mata coolly levelled for United. Dani Raba and Alex Telles made it 2-2 before Paco Alcacer nudged the Spaniards ahead.

Bruno Fernandes levelled at 3-3 and Alberto Moreno restored Villarreal’s advantage before Marcus Rashford replied for the Red Devils.

And so to sudden death. Dani Parejo converted for Villarreal and United’s scorer Cavani made it 5-5. Moi Gomez and Raul Albiol bagged the next two for Villarreal and Fred and Daniel James replied for United.

Francis Coquelin scored for the Yellow Submarine and then Luke Shaw breathed a sigh of relief as his shot just beat the keeper. Mario Gaspar and Pau Torres scored for Villarreal and Axel Tuanzebe and Victor Lindelof made it 10-10.

Take a breath!

Keeper Geronimo Rulli made it 11-10 and then saved De Gea’s shot to send the Spaniards into ecstasy.


Key statistics

In the run up to this game Manchester United’s Europa League 2021 results had been impressive but Villarreal came into the game unbeaten in the competition, and that’s how they finished.

The two teams have met in four previous European matches and all four ended in a goalless draw, so this was an improvement at 1-1!

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was seeking his first trophy as Manchester United head coach, while Villarreal head coach Unai Emery has now won this tournament for the fourth time.


What’s next?

The Red Devils’ neighbours have a European date on Saturday night when Manchester City take part in the 2021 Champions League final. Here at SBOTOP we’ll be reporting on an all England affair, played out in Portugal, as Pep Guardiola’s side faces Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. The Sky Blues are strong favourites to complete a treble, having already won the Premier League and Carabao Cup, but Chelsea are a class act, beating Real Madrid to reach this final and City will take nothing for granted.And then the top European players of Manchester United, Villarreal, Manchester City and Chelsea will be on show at Euro 2020, which starts on 11th June. England and Spain will both fancy their chances in that tournament but tonight it is celebration time for the Spaniards of Villarreal.




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