Manchester United hope to finish the 2020/21 season on a high note by winning the Europa League – but have to defeat Unai Emery’s Villarreal first before doing so. They were unable to do so, losing the game 1-1 (10-11) on penalties as Villarreal won their first-ever European title.
Despite dominating a good part of the first half-hour, the Red Devils fell behind in the 29th minute when Gerard Moreno converted a set-piece cleverly to give the La Liga side a stunning lead.
United dominated 69% of the possession in the first half but just couldn’t produce anything special to equalize things. But United came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and got the equalizer in the 55th minute thanks to Edinson Cavani’s poacher’s finish from close range.
Despite trying their best – neither side could find the winner in normal time after that – forcing extra-time in the finale! The extra-time period was even drabber than normal time – with neither teams being able to score. This meant that the tournament would be decided on penalty shootouts.
The penalties were bizarrely incredible in their own respect. Nearly everyone scored their penalty before David de Gea scuffed his effort to hand the win to Villarreal – who won the game 11-10 on penalties. Another trophyless season for United – who learn the bitter way how badly certain reinforcements are needed all over the squad if they’re to win trophies again.
Manchester United player ratings vs Wolves
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (3.0)–
Solskjaer went with the most attack-minded team possible from the get-go – but his plan obviously didn’t work out at all. Unai Emery had a counter-plan for every single one of his tactics. Too slow and inexperienced to make changes which caused a drab game and eventually penalties.
Got his substitutions all wrong too. Dean Henderson – the expert penalty saver – should’ve come on for De Gea – who hasn’t saved like 30 of his last pens. Rashford shouldn’t have lasted the entirety of the game. Pogba shouldn’t really have been subbed off. Set-piece defending again cost his side. If not anything else, this game proved that Ole & his staff have much to learn. Still too inexperienced to win the biggest games around.
David de Gea (4.0) –
De Gea couldn’t really do much to save Moreno’s shot from close range for his goal. Not really tested after that before the penalties. Very poor in the penalties – not being able to save a single effort before missing his own penalty to give Villarreal the win. Can’t expect to stay United no.1 after that. Won’t be surprised if he’s actually sold too after this.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (6.5) –
Wan-Bissaka seems a really proactive figure and is pressing really high up to help create stuff down the right. His final product still lacks that special something. Defensively sharp whenever called upon and made a few of his iconic spider-tackles during clutch moments. Tired out towards the end and subbed out before the penalties.
Victor Lindelof (4.5) –
Supposed to be the defensive leader on the day, Lindelof was too weak for the opener – c0mpleting allowing Moreno to go past him to score. Not troubled as much afterwards but still very slow to get the ball forward. Scored his penalty but his defensive work still wasn’t convincing enough today.
Eric Bailly (6.0) –
A BIG game for Bailly against his former side – filling in for the injured Maguire. Bit delayed and sloppy with his passing so far. Dealt with Villarreal’s swift breaks really well with his clever movement & clutch tackles. A bit overly aggressive at times, but relatively decent at the back when called upon.
Luke Shaw (6.0) –
The best left-back of the Premier League season got really involved in the 19th – but his powerful shot/cross couldn’t be converted by anyone. Created a lot of nice chances with his crosses but just not unable to see anyone convert it in normal time. Bit unlucky not to see any of his created chances converted today.
Scott McTominay (8.0) –
The deepest of United’s midfielders got their first big chance of the game but whipped a shot wide in the 7th. Played a surprising part in the equalizer – as Rashford’s shot hit him before Cavani finished it. Turns out he assisted the goal! Scott’s been an absolute warrior till extra-time, showcasing incredible energy to cover a lot of ground & win key defensive duels to get United going forward.
Definitely, United’s best player in normal and extra-time, covering an incredible amount of ground to help get the ball back and United forward all through the game.
Paul Pogba (6.5) –
Pogba’s back in his central role and looks much more comfortable there. Helping open things up with his smart passing and defensively looked rugged too. Got a big scoring chance in the 89th but hooped his header over the bar. Moved to the left-wing late on where he couldn’t really excel due to lack of energy in extra-time.
Did his job relatively well in midfield and helped keep things tight but unable to create that something special in a big game.
Bruno Fernandes (3.5) –
Fernandes captains United in what might be the biggest game of his United career so far. Almost invisible in the first half – barely able to create anything prominent. Bit better in the second half but still not really able to create anything special. Scored his penalty (obviously) but overall completely shut out and another disappointing ‘big game’ performance.
Mason Greenwood (6.5)-
Greenwood looks pumped and energetic in the final third today. Makes a brilliant run through the right late in the first half but his cross was deflected straight to the keeper’s hands. Too isolated later on but seemingly robbed off a penalty early in the second half. Worked his socks off and created some promising moments with his forward runs. Could’ve maybe scored if played more centrally.
Marcus Rashford (3.0) –
Back in his natural left-wing role, Rashford initially trouble dwith his presence. Laid the clever ball for McTominay’s early chance. But after that everything fell down. Takes an ambitious shot on target in the 24th that is held by the keeper. After a poor first half, Rashford somewhat redeems himself as his shot was deflected before Cavani finished it.
Fluffs an easy open-goal chance wide in the 69th – even though it might’ve been offside. Couldn’t do anything noteworthy apart from that half-baked shot for the equalizer and probably played the worst game of his United career.
Edinson Cavani (7.0) –
Despite all his experience, Cavani starts in his first-ever European cup final! After working the hardest among any United stars all game long – Cavani gets his deserved – albeit fortune – goal with a simple tap-in into the open net.
That was basically all the service he got all game long and despite working extremely hard – wasn’t rewarded with anything.
Fred (5.0) –
Added a bit of energy (but no creativity) after coming on to United’s midfield. Scored the penalty well.
Axel Tuanzebe (5.0) –
Scored his penalty really well. Defended well too.
Dan James (5.0) –
Scored his penalty.
Juan Mata (N/R) –
Made no mistake scoring the first pen of the game.
Alex Telles (N/R) –
Scored his pen well.
MAN OF THE MATCH
McTominay played like the only one actually hungry to win the game, assisted Cavani’s goal and covered each blade of the grass. He was United’s best performer – but Villarreal midfielder Dani Parejo deserves the MOTM after a classy performance.