Manchester United must wait to win a first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following a dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final in Gdansk.
The Red Devils were made to pay for not making the most of their dominance as they lost 11-10 on spot kicks after the game had finished 1-1.
Goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was the Villarreal hero as he scored his penalty and then saved David de Gea's kick after all of the outfield players found the net in a high calibre shoot-out that was in stark contrast to the quality of the match that preceded it.
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Geronimo Rulli esulta dopo la parata su De Gea, Villarreal-Manchester United, Getty Images

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The Red Devils dominated possession for long spells during normal time but were stunned on 29 minutes when Gerard Moreno met a left-wing free kick to break the deadlock with his 30th goal of the season.
The opener once again highlighted United’s weakness defending set pieces in the absence of injured skipper, Harry Maguire, who remained an unused substitute throughout the clash in Poland.
Solskjaer’s men improved greatly following the break and levelled on 55 minutes when Edinson Cavani pounced to lash home a deflected shot from distance.

GDANSK, POLAND - MAY 26: Edinson Cavani of Manchester United celebrates with Bruno Fernandes after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at Gdansk Arena on May 26, 2021 in Gdansk, P

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United continued to pose the greater threat but Villarreal stood firm to force extra time and then stole the glory after an epic run of penalties.
The victory means Villarreal, who finished seventh in La Liga, claimed the trophy in their first appearance in a major European final and ensures they will compete in the Champions League group stage next season. It also sees Unai Emery become the first manager to win the competition four times.
United will lament an inability to break down a stubborn rearguard action and will have to take solace in finishing second in the Premier League after ending another campaign without silverware.

TALKING POINT

This will sting for United and Ole for some time yet. This was a huge missed opportunity for United and Solskjaer. Ahead of the game he spoke of it being a stepping stone to greater things, but the reality was that his side didn’t do enough and ran out of steam. It should never have come down to the lottery of spot kicks, but the men from Old Trafford seemed to settle for it early in extra time. As a result, they paid the ultimate price. The Norwegian coach may have ended his semi-final hoodoo this term, but the fact remains he will be judged on silverware and the cabinet remains empty since he took charge during the 2018-19 season. United have made some progress this season with that second-placed finish in the league, but there was a clear feeling they needed this trophy to help them really kick on. It’s going to be an interesting summer in the transfer market as they look to make the right additions to try and truly challenge their neighbours Manchester City for the title. For now though, it's just bitter disappointment.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Raul Albiol (Villarreal). The 35-year-old defender was a rock at the back. United dominated and pressed for long spells during the 90 minutes but he helped the defence stand firm and then capped his performance with an exquisite spot kick in the shoot out.

Raul Albiol

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PLAYER RATINGS

MAN UTD: De Gea 5, Wan-Bissaka 7, Bailly 7, Lindelof 7, Shaw 8, McTominay 8, Pogba 6, Greenwood 6, Fernandes 6, Rashford 6, Cavani 7. Subs: Fred 6, James n/a, Tuanzebe n/a, Telles n/a, Mata n/a.
VILLARREAL: Rulli 8, Foyth 7, Albiol 8, Pau Torres 7, Pedraza 7, Parejo 7, Capoue 7, Trigueros 7, Moreno.G 7, Bacca 6, Pino 7. Subs: Coquelin 6, Gomez 6, Alcacer 6, Gaspar 6, Moreno.A 6, Raba n/a.

Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary

KEY MOMENTS

29’ - GOAL! – Man United 0-1 Villarreal. Gerard Moreno is allowed to drift free of Lindelof and finish off a free kick from the left by flashing a volley beyond De Gea.
55’ - GOAL! – Man United 1-1 Villarreal. Cavani levels! The Uruguayan scrambles home the ricochet after a speculative shot from outside the box hit a defender and fell his way.
72’ – MAN UNITED CHANCES! What a miss! Rashford rolls the ball wide from close range with just the keeper to beat after being fed from the right by Fernandes. The Portuguese star was probably offside, but Rashford needed to make sure of the finish - and didn't. United come again seconds later, but Pau Torres makes an important block inside his own six-yard box after Shaw's miscued shot was met by the head of Cavani.
SHOOT-OUT - GOAL! - VILLARREAL 11-10 MAN UNITED. Villarreal keeper, Rulli sticks to the script and fires past De Gea. All of the outfield players and Rulli have all scored. Can De Gea keep his nerve next?
SHOOT-OUT - SAVED! - VILLARREAL 11-10 MAN UNITED. De Gea sees his kick saved! Villarreal win the Europa League!

KEY STATS

Moreno is the first player to score 30+ goals for Villarreal in a single season in all competitions since Giuseppe Rossi in 2010-11 (32).
Cavani became the third player aged 34 or above to score in a major European final for an English club, after Gary McAllister (36) for Liverpool in the UEFA Cup final in 2000-01 and Didier Drogba (34) for Chelsea in the Champions League final in 2011-12.
When facing an English side in a European competition final (incl. Super Cups), Spanish sides have taken home the trophy in the last 10 such finals, with Man Utd accounting for four of those defeats (2009 & 2011 Champions League, 2017 Super Cup, 2021 Europa League).
Emery becomes the first manager to win the UEFA Cup/Europa League four times (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 & 2020-21) surpassing Giovanni Trapattoni.
Manchester United have lost six of their last seven penalty shootouts in all competitions, beating only Rochdale in a third round League Cup tie in September 2019 during this period.
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