Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli scored the decisive penalty and saved his counterpart David de Gea’s attempt when they claimed their first European title by beating Manchester United 11-10 after a 1-1 draw in the Europa League final.
In the first European final to be played to the public in two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Villarreal survived a tough second half to give coach Unai Emery a record fourth league title on Wednesday, leaving United without a trophy ever since. . their Europa League triumph in 2017.
Gerard Moreno stretched to reach Dani Parejo’s free kick and sent the ball past De Gea to open the scoring in the 29th minute, only for United to tie when Edinson Cavani thrust the ball home after catching the deflected shot from Marcus Rashford in the 55th minute.
After no goals were scored in extra time, all the fielders scored their penalties and Rulli coolly beat De Gea before saving the United goalkeeper’s penalty.
Villarreal played their first major final and coach Emery acknowledged that United were the favorites for their more storied history, but urged his side to “keep breaking down barriers” after four exits in the semi-final.
Emery is known for his diligent study of opponents and although United made the stronger start, his team managed to minimize their strengths, leaving Bruno Fernandes with no room to create danger and Cavani with little room to maneuver.
Their only chances in the first half were wayward shots from Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw and while Villarreal wasn’t exactly sparkling, they made their only chance count from a free kick given away by Cavani.
Raul Albiol blocked Eric Bailly and Moreno, muscular Lindelof, from sliding in and meeting Dani Parejo’s curling cross, putting his shot past De Gea.
It was Moreno’s 30th goal of the season and saw him become Villarreal’s joint top goalscorer along with Giuseppe Rossi.
United continued to take the initiative after the break and tied it up with a scrappy goal when Rashford hit a crowd of bodies after a corner kick and deflected the ball into Cavani’s path, who knocked it into an unguarded net.
The Uruguayan still had a few half-chances to find the winner, while Rashford missed a golden opportunity but was still offside.
Villarreal barely had a pinch on the other side until defender Pau Torres had the chance to find a late winner but couldn’t keep his shot under the crossbar.
Villarreal was the better side in the first half of extra time after Emery made all five changes for full time, unlike United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who didn’t make his first change until the 100th minute.
The five substitutes he made all scored their penalties in a captivating shoot-out, but De Gea couldn’t keep his nerves and lost the fight to his counterpart Rulli.