Villarreal wins Europa League in marathon shootout over Man Utd

25’s players lift the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (AFP Photo)

Villarreal have won the first major honor in their history with an epic 11-10 penalty shootout win over Manchester United in the Europa League final following a 1-1 draw after extra-time.

The remarkable shootout saw both sides score their first 10 penalties using outfield players and it was Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli who turned out the hero.

He smashed an unstoppable kick high to the left of David de Gea and Rulli then saved the weak shot of his opposite number to make history for the so-called Yellow Submarine.

The La Liga side had opened the scoring when Gerard Moreno touched in Dani Parejo’s 30th minute free kick but United levelled when Edinson Cavani converted a ricochet 10 minutes after the restart to take an attritional game almost as far as possible.

For Villarreal coach Unai Emery, who is in his first season at the helm, the victory added to his already sparkling Europa League record.

Villarreal had just finished fifth in La Liga when they appointed Emery as coach last summer, with the Spaniard’s remit to take the club closer to winning titles and securing Champions League qualification.

He could achieve both in one fell swoop in Gdansk, where an upset against the much-fancied United would not only clinch Villarreal its first-ever major trophy but also a place in Europe’s premier tournament next season.

“We respect United but we think we’re capable of winning this trophy,” said Emery last week. “We are going to play with the confidence we’ve shown throughout the whole competition.”


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