Penalty heartache for David De Gea as Man United lose in Europa League final

The goalkeeper missed the decisive spot-kick as the Red Devils lost the shootout 11-10 to Villarreal
Penalty heartache for David De Gea as Man United lose in Europa League final

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer, Gdansk

Manchester United’s wait for their first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues after David De Gea saw his spot-kick saved at the end of a wild shootout that saw Villarreal crowned Europa League champions.

On this day 22 years ago, the Norwegian wrote himself into club folklore when turning home at the death as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side fought back to win the Champions League and complete the treble.

But May 26, 2021 did not provide another triumphant chapter in United’s success-laden story, with the match ending 1-1 and going to a penalty shootout after Edinson Cavani cancelled out Gerard Moreno’s opener.

All outfield players scored their spot-kicks, as did Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli before saving De Gea’s penalty to win the shootout 11-10 and secure the first major trophy in their history.

It was a heartbreaking end to a promising season for United, who finished as Premier League runners-up and showed clear signs of progress.

But defending set-pieces has been a problem throughout and Moreno opened the scoring when all too easily meeting Dani Parejo’s terrific free-kick.

Cavani levelled early in the second half after Marcus Rashford’s volley fell kindly for him from close range and Villarreal clung on for extra-time, which Unai Emery’s men edged before triumphing on penalties.

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