Manchester United, Villarreal (c) Villarreal Twitter

3 talking points as Villarreal beat Manchester United in the Europa League final

Villareal won their first-ever European title at the expense of Manchester United after beating them in a sensational penalty shootout.

Manchester United lost to Villarreal on penalties in the Europa League final in Gdansk, as David de Gea missed the decisive spot-kick. The goalkeeper saw the 22nd penalty of a mammoth shootout saved by Villarreal stopper Geronimo Rulli, as the La Liga side prevailed.

They took the lead after half an hour when Gerard Moreno got the better of a static defence to turn home a free-kick delivery into the box, with both Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly left looking on. The goal had come largely against the run of play, but with United struggling to turn their possession into decent chances, they were left frustrated by a rugged defence.

It was Edinson Cavani who levelled the scores early in the second period when he turned home from close range, with Marcus Rashford soon missing a great chance to make it 2-1. The Red Devils then looked exhausted in the second period, with the match petering out into a penalty shootout.

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Right from the outset, Manchester United ran hard over the Yellow Submarine’s backline. They were in cruise control as they spent most of their time heating the defensive third. Marcus Rashford let fly from a distance when  Unai Emery’s troops sat back in to block any penetration.

Mason Greenwood enjoyed plenty of space down the right flank, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka making overlapping runs. With close to 70% of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, Manchester United exhibited confidence and intent. Paul Pogba, too, dictated the pace of play from a wider role in midfield.

He was able to pick out innovative passes and get the forwards into the game. However, it was a case of tireless probing for the Red Devils. Much to their frustration, the lack of decisiveness in the final third cost them a realistic shot at winning the cup.