Football Villarreal beat Manchester United on penalties to win Europa League |28 May 2021
Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli scored the decisive spot kick and saved his counterpart David de Gea’s attempt as they claimed their first European title by beating Manchester United 11-10 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the Europa League final.
In the first European final to be played in front of a crowd in two years amid the Covif-19 pandemic, Villarreal survived a tough second half to give coach Unai Emery a record fourth title in the competition on Wednesday, leaving United without a trophy since their Europa League triumph in 2017.
Gerard Moreno stretched to reach Dani Parejo’s free kick and steered the ball past De Gea to open the scoring in the 29th minute, only for United to level when Edinson Cavani poked the ball home after collecting Marcus Rashford’s deflected shot on 55 minutes.
It was Moreno’s 30th goal of the season and saw him become Villarreal’s joint-top scorer of all-time alongside Giuseppe Rossi.
After no goals were scored in extra time, all outfield players scored their penalties and Rulli coolly beat De Gea before saving the United keeper’s spot kick.
Villarreal were playing their first big final and coach Emery recognised United were favourites due to their more storied history but urged his side to “keep breaking down barriers” after four semifinal exits.
Emery is renowned for his diligent study of opponents and although United made the stronger start, his side managed to minimise their strengths, ensuring Bruno Fernandes was deprived of space to create danger and Cavani had little wiggle room.