Villarreal win Europa League final in shoot-out drama as United suffer penalty pain with de Gea’s miss
In the Europa League final, Manchester United were favourites and the fans were sure they were going to comfortably clinch victory. However, Villarreal had other ideas. They came in to the final as underdogs but managed to get past United.
Throughout this past season, United have fallen behind in a lot of games before fighting back to squeeze out a win. Not this time. Gerard Moreno gave Villarreal a priceless lead in the 30th minute with a poacher’s finishes. However, United equalised after half-time thanks to a fine Edison Cavani finish. United tried their best but were not able to break through Villarreal’s tight defence as the game went to extra-time.
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The biggest miss for United in this game was their central defender Harry Maguire, who hadn’t missed a game for the club this season until he suffered an injury against Aston Villa in early May. The club mainly looked off-balance without him as both Eric Bailey and Victor Lindelof have barely started a game together.
United’s forward Marcus Rashford struggled throughout the game and was shut out from Villarreal’s centre-backs Pau Torres and captain Raul Albiol. The key midfielders for United, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, are usually so influential by creating chances, but they were not able to provide any sort of spark this time around in another downside for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The United manager made his first substitution 10 minutes into extra-time, which showed that their bench was not impactful. Tension was increasing as the match edged towards penalties and the two sides showed ridiculous composure from the spot. The first 21 penalties were scored but, unfortunately for United, they lost the tie when David de Gea’s effort was saved.
Despite United’s defeat, they have still had a decent season. They showed much improvement in the Premier League and finished second. Solskjaer must wait for his big moment. A season of progression ends on a sour note after a cup final defeat. There is plenty of work to do, starting in the transfer market this summer. The Europa League final was a sign that United are still not good enough when it really matters