Villarreal clinched its first major European trophy following the 1-1 draw over 120 minutes followed by an incredible 11-10 penalty shootout to beat Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League final. Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli scored the decisive spotkick and saved counterpart David de Gea’s attempt in the first European final to be played in front of a crowd in two years.
“In the Europa League we have been absolutely impeccable. Since the very first moment. Some days we were coming at 6am to the stadium to prepare a game for the Sunday. All of this makes the journey (worthwhile),” Emery told a news conference. Emery joined Villarreal in July 2020, nine months after he was sacked by English side Arsenal. Follow us for more EPL predictions and soccer betting tips.
Gerard Moreno gave Villarreal the lead 29 minutes with his 30th goal of the season. However, Edinson Cavani equalized early in the second half. The whole 120 minutes ended in a 1-1 draw. After no goals were scored in extra time, all outfield players scored their penalties before De Gea’s penalty was saved by Rulli, handing Villarreal victory in front of as many as 9,000 fans in the stands Gdansk stadium.
“We were talking about enjoying these moments. In the end you are proud to reach the title (decider) but if you don’t win, you are sad. Winning is another step, an important step ahead. We do this profession for these moments. We have been able to give joy to many people,” Emery added. Villarreal had been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and had lost three consecutive league games before Emery.
The Yellow Submarine are the first side to win in their first appearance in a major European final since Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup. It was the sixth time in the past eight competitions that a Spanish club has won the Europa League, while it was Unai Emery’s fourth in the second-placed Spanish side, with the result that will automatically qualify them for next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Their victory mean there will be five representatives from LaLiga Santander in the group stages of the Champions League next season, joining Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla in Europe’s elite competition. Unai Emery’s side will be in Pot 1 for the group stage draw alongside Atletico, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Inter, Sporting CP, Lille and either Zenit or Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have lost six of their last seven penalty shootouts in all competitions. “It’s a disappointed dressing room. That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick — and that’s the difference between winning and losing,” said United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “We have to learn from it, taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again.”
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