Villarreal won its first major European trophy in the most memorable fashion: a penalty kick from its goalkeeper in the 11th round of a shootout with Manchester United, followed by a title-winning save for the Europa League trophy.
Gerónimo Rulli is a name that will go down in Villarreal and Europa League history as the keeper calmly stepped to the spot and scored after both sides converted each of their first 10 penalties. When Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea ran up to his shot, Rulli got a jump on the chance and dove right, deflecting the low shot away before being mobbed by his teammates.
The penalty shootout ended at with remarkable 11-10 scoreline after the two sides fought to a 1-1 draw in Gdańsk, Poland.
With the win, the Spanish side clinched a spot in next season's Champions League group stage—at the expense of an automatic berth for third-place French side Monaco—while manager Unai Emery secured his fourth Europa League champion's medal, the most in competition history.
As the teams moved cautiously in the opening minutes in front of a raucous crowd, Manchester United looked to take the initiative in the opening minutes. Midfielder Scott McTominay took the first shot from distance in the seventh minute after Marcus Rashford drew the defense away, but the Scottish international's shot went well wide.
Tottenham loanee Juan Foyth took a nasty blow to the head when he rolled over the ball and fell into Paul Pogba's knee in the 10th minute. The stretcher came out in fear of a head injury, but Foyth re-entered the game with a bandaged head and bloody nose minutes later.
Luke Shaw gave United a sterling chance in the 20th minute with a scintillating low cross into the box that simply needed a redirect to log the first goal, but it fizzled just out of reach of two United attackers and out of play.
Carlos Bacca looked to give the Yellow Submarine the lead in style in the 23rd minute with a Rabona cross to an open Manu Trigueros, but the ball was just behind enough to throw off the midfielder's balance as his header soared over the bar.
But Villarreal struck the first blow just before the half-hour mark, courtesy of talisman Gerard Moreno. The Spaniard equaled the club's goalscoring record with his 82nd goal and 30th of the season, latching onto a free-kick cross from Dani Parejo at the back post and turning it past David De Gea for the 1-0 lead. The goal gave Moreno the joint-lead in Europa League scoring this season with seven goals.
United worked frantically to find an equalizer before the end of the half, but the Villarreal defense consistently swarmed the United attack, doubling Edinson Cavani on any movement in the box after his four goals in the semifinal legs against Roma.
Cavani appeared to have his moment in first-half stoppage time as Mason Greenwood sent a dangerous cross into the box, but Raúl Albiol somehow reached across for it, awkwardly deflecting it back to the keeper to avert the danger and go into halftime with the 1-0 lead.
In the 48th minute, Villarreal nearly doubled its lead when Alfonso Pedraza sent a cross into the box that Eric Bailly made a mess of clearing. What ensued was a mad scramble as Bacca tried to get the deflection past a wall of United bodies that somehow got the chance away in time.
United's efforts paid off in the 55th minute when Cavani found a way through against a harried Villarreal defense. The Uruguayan international found himself in the right place at the right time, pouncing on a couple of deflections following a long Rashford shot before scoring his fifth goal in his last three Europa League games.
Cavani nearly put United ahead in the 72nd minute when Shaw located him with a pinpoint cross. The striker leapt and headed the ball on target, but Villarreal defender Pau Torres astutely read the chance and blocked the effort before it reached the goal.
The final 20 minutes appeared to be all United, and Pogba nearly gave the Red Devils a 90th minute winner thanks to another dangerous Shaw cross. But the French star's header cleared the crossbar despite the open chance as the game crawled to extra time.
Former Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno had a chance to break the tie against United in the 99th minute. But the fullback opted for a hasty shot that went awry instead of a cross to his teammates crashing down on goal, much to their dismay.
Despite the early action, the two sides only recorded a combined three shots on target throughout the match, with none coming in extra time. In the end, the final required penalties after 120 minutes.
Gerard Moreno opened the penalty-kick shootout by sending De Gea the wrong way for the opener, but extra-time substitute Juan Mata curled in his chance with a stunning effort.
Dani Raba and Alex Telles continued the streak of late subs converting penalties. Paco Alcacer and Bruno Fernandes followed up by barely sneaking under the keepers' glove in the third round.
After many decisive penalties from both sides, Luke Shaw's chance somehow got past Villarreal keeper Gerónimo Rulli despite getting a hand to the effort to keep the shootout alive.
Mario Gaspar and Axel Tuanzebe each scored before Pau Torres and Victor Lindelof made it 20 straight penalties made before the goalkeepers took their shots. Rulli scored first with a precise effort before Rulli saved De Gea's low effort to earn the title for Villarreal.
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