A dull affair saved by a penalty marathon

Won a dull affair that was ultimately settled on penalties.

Gerard Moreno gave Villareal the lead against the run of play in the first half after the Red Devils switched off from a set-piece. Manchester United dominated the ball but failed to do anything with it and relied on Edinson Cavani reacting fastest to a deflection to equalise.

The game petered on, with both sides looking clueless as to how to break each other down. The result was that penalties looked inevitable from shortly after the hour mark, and so they arrived.

Both sides scored their five spot-kicks, meaning that the tie went to sudden death. As emotions continued to spiral, neither side seemed likely to miss, and at 10-10, it felt as if it could go on forever.

It had to end in heartbreak for someone, however, with David De Gea’s spot-kick saved by his opposite number and sending the Villareal fans in the stadium into pandemonium.

Unai Emery and Villarreal win the shoot-out. The Europa League is theirs. 🏆#UEL pic.twitter.com/CHZFabyY8X

— VBET UK (@VBET_uk) May 26, 2021

Ole’s odd substitutes:

Whilst Unai Emery made all six of his available substitutes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose not to make a change until the first half of extra time, and only made changes late in the piece to re-order his penalty takers, with Juan Mata and Alex Telles both coming on late in the second half of extra time.

It appeared as though both managers were happy to play for penalties, with Solskjaer’s lack of proactivity on the bench matched by Emery’s proactivity, which saw him remove a striker and replace him with a defensive midfielder with the score still at 1-1.

Marcus Rashford in particular looked well off the pace, and was lucky to survive the entire game despite an all-around poor performance, compounded by seemingly picking up a knock in the dying seconds of the game.

 

Questions will be asked about Ole’s decision surrounding substitutes and his desire to win the tie in normal time, but the loss means that his trophy hoodoo lives on, which is unacceptable for a Manchester United manager.

 

Read more:

Trent Alexander-Arnold matches Ashley Cole in PL record books, but Leeds strike late to deny Liverpool

The latest of Harry Maguire ahead of Man United’s Europa League final meeting with Villareal

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