Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United (11-10 on pens): David de Gea spot kick saved in epic Europa League final shootout

David de Gea's penalty is saved
All previous 21 penalties had been converted before David de Gea’s miss

David de Gea failed at the end of a marathon penalty shootout as Villarreal dashed Manchester United’s hopes of Europa League glory in Gdansk.

This was a disappointing contest lacking in quality and producing only three shots on target across 120 minutes – but drama arrived with the spot-kicks.

All 20 outfield players converted their penalties in the longest shootout in a final of any Uefa competition, and in an increasingly tense stadium Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli blasted home his effort and then denied De Gea, who was crestfallen at the end.

It gave Villarreal a first major trophy in their history and saw former Arsenal boss Unai Emery lift the Europa League for an unprecedented fourth time.

However, on the anniversary of both Sir Matt Busby’s birth and the epic Champions League final in 1999 that earned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hero status among the Old Trafford faithful, there was to be no new 26 May landmark as United complete a fourth year without silverware.

United simply did not do enough, despite the massive gulf in transfer fees and salaries between the two clubs.

Solskjaer’s side did not start well and fell behind to a soft goal from Gerard Moreno.

Edinson Cavani dragged United level 10 minutes into the second period after a Marcus Rashford shot had been deflected into his path, but United failed to build on that momentum and by the end Solskjaer was introducing Juan Mata and Alex Telles purely to take penalties in the shootout.

Both players scored. Although given De Gea had failed to save any of the previous 21 penalties he had faced, maybe Solskjaer should have followed the example of former United boss Louis van Gaal, who famously brought on Tim Krul purely for a shootout at the 2014 World Cup, which the Netherlands went on to win

Solskjaer’s substitute problem

For most of this season, no-one has been quite sure which United were going to turn up. It felt like that across the whole game in Gdansk, as they alternated between inventive and passive almost with each passing minute.

Evidently, Solskjaer felt he had no choice other than to stick with it.

In the final game of last season, he waited until the 87th minute of the semi-final defeat by Sevilla before making a change.

By then, his side were losing, so it was not a shock the Norwegian had not used any of the six he was allowed on this occasion as extra time began.

Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani’s 17th goal of the season took the game to extra time

The brutal truth is, having gone with his strongest offensive starting XI, there was no-one on the bench Solskjaer felt confident could improve the situation.

In Cavani and Mason Greenwood, two of United’s best performers were attackers. But Rashford had a poor game, which was summed up by the England man failing to convert when Greenwood had given him a clear sight at goal.

Any goal would have been ruled offside but Rashford was not to know that as his scuffed effort rolled wide.

Scott McTominay’s midfield industry outshone both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, who both flitted in and out of the game without producing anything truly remarkable.

Defensive disaster

It would be easy to point to the absence of captain Harry Maguire as the key factor in Moreno’s opener.

But Maguire was on the pitch when United conceded a very similar kind of goal against Everton in February.

On that occasion it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin who slid the ball past De Gea as United’s defence failed to deal with a free-kick floated from a deep position into their penalty area.

This time Moreno’s run into the box went unchecked, allowing him to get in front of Victor Lindelof and turn Dani Parejo’s free-kick into De Gea’s goal.

Gerard Moreno
Gerard Moreno scored his 30th goal of the season to give Villarreal the lead

It is the kind of routine situation Solskjaer’s team have been vulnerable to all season and seemed to be something Emery had worked out given the number of times Villarreal put themselves in situations to deliver such crosses, without quite getting their execution right.

Not that nervous United defending was limited to set-pieces. The sight of Eric Bailly attempting an overhead-kick inside his own six-yard box in the opening stages of the second period would have been only marginally less worrying had he actually connected with the ball.

It could be argued Solskjaer should have addressed the issue before now. Some may claim it was for the powers-that-be to deal with it for him.

Now, having failed to win a trophy in two and a half seasons as manager, the familiar questions about his own ability will follow the Norwegian around all summer.

More to follow.

Player of the match

MorenoGerard Moreno


  1. Squad number7Player nameMoreno

  2. Squad number18Player nameMoreno

  3. Squad number5Player nameParejo

  4. Squad number4Player nameTorres

  5. Squad number3Player nameAlbiol

  6. Squad number19Player nameCoquelin

  7. Squad number17Player namePaco Alcácer

  8. Squad number2Player nameMario Gaspar

  9. Squad number13Player nameRulli

  10. Squad number12Player nameDani Raba

  11. Squad number25Player nameCapoue

  12. Squad number9Player nameBacca

  13. Squad number14Player nameManu Trigueros

  14. Squad number23Player nameMoi Gómez

  15. Squad number8Player nameFoyth

  16. Squad number30Player namePino

  17. Squad number24Player namePedraza



Formation 4-4-2

  • 13Rulli
  • 8FoythBooked at 84minsSubstituted forPérez Martínezat 88′minutes
  • 3Albiol
  • 4Torres
  • 24PedrazaSubstituted forMorenoat 88′minutes
  • 30PinoSubstituted forAlcácerat 77′minutes
  • 25CapoueBooked at 54minsSubstituted forRabaseda Antolínat 120+3′minutes
  • 5Parejo
  • 14Trigueros MuñozSubstituted forGómez Bardonadoat 77′minutes
  • 7Moreno
  • 9BaccaSubstituted forCoquelinat 60′minutes


  • 1Asenjo
  • 2Pérez Martínez
  • 6Funes Mori
  • 12Rabaseda Antolín
  • 15Estupiñán
  • 17Alcácer
  • 18Moreno
  • 19Coquelin
  • 20Peña
  • 21Costa
  • 23Gómez Bardonado
  • 34Niño

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-BissakaSubstituted forMataat 120+3′minutes
  • 3BaillyBooked at 82minsSubstituted forTuanzebeat 116′minutes
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 23Shaw
  • 39McTominaySubstituted forTellesat 120+3′minutes
  • 6PogbaSubstituted forJamesat 115′minutes
  • 11GreenwoodSubstituted forFredat 100′minutes
  • 18Bruno Fernandes
  • 10Rashford
  • 7CavaniBooked at 113mins


  • 5Maguire
  • 8Mata
  • 13Grant
  • 17Fred
  • 19Diallo
  • 21James
  • 26Henderson
  • 27Telles
  • 31Matic
  • 33Williams
  • 34van de Beek
  • 38Tuanzebe

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