Manchester United have not managed to win a trophy for the fourth consecutive season! Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell after a long penalty shoot-out to a spirited Villarreal side, following 120 minutes of football during which the Red Devils had their chances to win the Europa League final.
After all, it ended 1-1, with Villarreal winning 11-10 after penalties. The Spaniards got the lead after half hour, with Gerard Moreno scoring on a Dani Parejo assist. It was Edinson Cavani who brought the much needed equaliser 10 minutes into the second half, after a deflection.
In the end, after 10 rounds of penalties, it was the turn for goalkeepers to shoot them. Geronimo Rulli scored his and then saved David de Gea’s shot, to win Villarreal their first European trophy.
Man United And Solskjaer Had To Win Europa League
The feeling after the game felt that Manchester United simply had to win the whole thing. Villarreal got themselves in the lead, that is true, but since then, United showed they are the side that loves making comebacks. This time that was not to happen, but Man United did well after getting behind.
After a prolonged pressure, Man United equalised through Cavani and then it became obvious that the team failed to make the most out of that momentum. Solskjaer did not realise his team was in need of changes, not making substitutions which would cause further problems to Villarreal. United were again without clear attacking ideas and when Daniel James replaced Paul Pogba, it was already becoming clear this match was going to penalties.
Unai Emery Is The King Of Europa League
It is simply incredible how successful Unai Emery is in the Europa League. In his five seasons in the competition, he has never lost a two-legged knockout matchup and he won four trophies with a single final lost. Three consecutive Europa League wins with Sevilla were followed by a final loss with Arsenal against Chelsea, before now doing it all again with Villarreal, a team which comes from a place of just 50.000 souls. Simply incredible.
Rashford Far From His Old Self
There were certain problems in this Man United performance that deserve a mention, such as again too easily conceding from a set-piece, a problem the Devils still have not solved. But there was also the problem of Marcus Rashford’s performance, which could be a worry for Gareth Southgate before the Euros. Rashford played on the left and was far less effective than Mason Greenwood on the opposite side. He was not his confident self, he squandered one great opportunity he had in the second half and it could be that a such a long campaign during which he even played injured is taking its toll.
De Gea Gets In The Spotlight
In what might have been his final Man United game, David de Gea got himself in the spotlight. He was the only player that missed his missed his penalty, which ultimately ended the final, but was more striking than that is that he never looked like he was going to save any of the 11 shots he faced from the spot. He conceded all 11 of them, making that now 36 penalties he has failed to save in a row, dating back to 2016.