David de Gea failed at the end of the marathon penalty as Villarreal dashed Manchester United’s Europa League glory in Gdansk.
This disappointing competition lacked quality and fired only three shots from the target in 120 minutes. But the drama came with a shot.
All 20 foreign players changed their penalties for the longest shot in the final of any Uefa tournament.
On the pitch, they were still tense, with Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli pulling out his effort. And denying De Gea, who had finally collapsed.
It gave Villarreal the first major trophy in its history. And saw former Arsenal manager Unai Emery lift the Europa League for the fourth time ever.
However, on the birthday of Sir Matt Busby and the 1999 Champions League final that secured the title of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hero.
Among the Old Trafford faithful, there would be no new sign on May 26 as United would end their fourth year without silverware.
Although there was a massive gap in transfers and salaries between the two teams, United did not do enough.
Solskjaer’s side did not start well and fell back to Gerard Moreno‘s soft goal.
Edinson Cavani dragged United level 10 minutes into the second half after Marcus Rashford was shot in his way.
But United failed to build at that moment. And Solskjaer finally introduced Juan Mata and Alex Telles. They intended to take penalties during the shootout.
Both players scored goals. Although given De Gea’s failure to save any of the past 21 penalties, he faced.
Perhaps Solskjaer should have followed the example of former United boss Louis van Gaal.
He famously praised Tim Krul for his 2014 World Cup shooting. The Netherlands went on to win.
The team of Solskjaer had a problem with a substitute
For most of the season, no one was sure who United would be up against.
Throughout the game in Gdansk, it was like that as they alternated between composing and performing almost every minute.
Solskjaer realized that he had no choice but to stick to it.
In last season’s final game, he waited for the 87th minute of Sevilla’s semi-final defeat before making the change.
At that time, his side was still missing. So it came as no surprise that the Norwegians had not used any of the six allowed in the event as overtime began.
The harsh truth is that since he started with his most potent XI. No one on the bench Solkjaer felt confident he could improve the situation.
In Cavani and Mason Greenwood, two of United’s best players were strikers.
But Rashford had had a poor game, which was summed up. By the England man who failed to convert when Greenwood gave him a clear view of the goalposts.
Any goal could be considered offside. But Rashford should not have known that as his goal-scoring effort continued.
The Scott McTominay midfield industry is trendy with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Both of them came in and out of the game without producing anything genuinely remarkable.
The defensive slip-up
It would be easy to point to the absence of captain Harry Maguire as the key to Moreno’s first game.
But Maguire was on the pitch when United conceded the same goal against Everton in February.
At the time, Dominic Calvert-Lewin cleared the ball past De Gea as United’s defense failed. To cope with a free-kick that went from a deep spot to their penalty area.
This time Moreno’s rush to the box was overlooked. Allowing him to step in front of Victor Lindelof and turn a Dani Parejo free-kick into De Gea’s net.
In a typical situation, Solskjaer’s team has been in danger all season. And it seems to be something Emery has used in considering the number of times.
Villarreal has put themself in the position of bringing such crosses without properly getting their assists.
It’s not that defensive United defense is limited to the set. United saw Eric Bailly try to kick over his six-yard box in the first half.
The second half would have been a little worrying if he had been in touch with the ball.
It can be argued that Solskjaer should have faced this issue before now. Some would say it was a force to deal with.
They are now, having failed to win a trophy in two and a half seasons as manager. General questions about his ability will follow Norway throughout the summer.