Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United (11-10 on penalties): Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s trophy dream shattered as Red Devils lose Europa League final in Gdansk after marathon penalty shootout… with David de Gea seeing crucial effort saved to seal defeat
- Manchester United were left stunned in the Europa League final after losing out to Villarreal on penalties
- Gerard Moreno tucked Villarreal into the lead on the half-hour mark after sliding home from a set piece
- United had dominated the ball in the first-half but were unable to break down Villarreal’s compact system
- Edinson Cavani hauled them level after 55 minutes after tucking beyond Geronimo Rulli with a simple finish
- Despite United pushing to take the lead, the showdown in Poland went to a tense 30 minutes of extra-time
- The clash went to penalties with the score still locked level and David de Gea saw his spot-kick tipped away
David de Gea hadn’t saved a penalty in more than five years and 25 attempts, so we had every reason to fear for Manchester United’s chances when it went to a shoot-out in Gdansk. Come to think of it, he hadn’t scored one either but that didn’t seem important at the time.
One by one the spot-kicks flew in. A 100 per cent record from both teams through the regulation five each and deep into sudden-death.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stood as far back as he could in his technical area, hiding nervously behind a phalanx of exhausted players. Amad Diallo sank to his knees and prayed. Others could barely look.
Manchester United were left stunned in the Europa League final after losing to Villarreal following a tense penalty shootout
Villarreal’s players rushed to mob the heroic Geronimo Rulli after his save from David de Gea’s spot-kick won them the cup
Rulli plunged down low to his left to push away De Gea’s effort after the shootout was sent all the way to the two goalkeepers
De Gea, along with most of his United team-mates, had quickly taken off their runners up medals after the disappointment
The United players looked devastated with the result and Bruno Fernandes was even in tears on the pitch
The sea of yellow confetti rained down on the victorious Spanish underdogs after a thrilling finale on penalties
Ex-Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno (right) took added delight in putting United to the sword in the final
Villarreal: Rulli, Foyth (Gaspar 88), Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (Moreno 88), Parejo, Capoue (Raba 120+3), Trigueros (Gomez 77), G. Moreno, Bacca (Coquelin 60), Pino (Alcacer 77)
Subs not used: Asenjo, Funes Mori, Estupinan, Pena, Costa, Nino
Goals: G. Moreno 29
Booked: Capoue, Foyth
Manager: Unai Emery
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka (Mata 120+3), Bailly (Tuanzebe 115), Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay (Telles 120+3), Pogba (James 115), Greenwood (Fred 100), Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani
Subs not used: Grant, Henderson, Maguire, Williams, Amad, Matic, Van de Beek
Goals: Cavani 55
Booked: Bailly, Cavani
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
On it went. Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, once on the books of Manchester City, got a hand to efforts from Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof but just couldn’t keep them out. He was getting a lot closer than De Gea though whose record now stands at 36 conceded, none saved.
So at 10-10, it fell to the two keepers. Rulli blasted his effort emphatically past De Gea, but his opposite number never looked comfortable as he stood over the spot.
De Gea went to the right and Rulli guessed correctly. As he smothered the ball, the yellow-shirted fans of Villarreal behind his goal erupted. A first ever European trophy for their club and a record fourth Europa League for their coach Unai Emery who was in charge of Sevilla when this final last went to penalties in 2014.
But what about Solskjaer? There was no first trophy as United manager. No glorious end to the season 22 years to the day since his momentous Champions League winner in Barcelona. No pot to show for all the progress he has made at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer’s achievements at United run deeper than simple statistics, but the facts are this was his 151st match in charge and only Dave Sexton has gone longer without a trophy at Old Trafford in the post-war era.
Once again his United have fallen short. Four losing semi-finals and now this, the most painful failure of the lot.
They came into the game as favourites against a club that finished seventh in La Liga this season – two places below the Real Sociedad team United brushed aside 4-0 on aggregate in the last 32.
Sociedad were far too open, though. Emery made sure Villarreal stayed compact and fought for every ball, starving United of space and the chance to break. They took the lead through Gerard Moreno before Edinson Cavani equalised for United in a game of very few clear chances.
By the end of the night, two clubs who had faced each other four times in history without scoring had hit the net 23 times.
Could Solskjaer have done more to tip the balance in United’s favour? It was odd that he waited until extra-time to make his first changes while Emery sent on five subs inside 90 minutes, keeping his team fresher.
Given De Gea’s lamentable penalty record, could Solskjaer even have put Dean Henderson in goal for the shoot-out? Former United boss Louis van Gaal was known for that trick. It would have been a bold move but bravery is often rewarded on these occasions and United played within themselves again here.
One of the substitutes available to Solskjaer was one he admitted couldn’t really play as Harry Maguire lost his battle to return from ankle ligament damage. The United manager was forced to leave Fred on the bench for 100 minutes too due to injury.
Without the insurance policy of Maguire at the back and Fred in midfield for so long, it made sense for United to get on the front foot and they did their best. But there simply weren’t enough opportunities created or enough big performances from their main men.
Paul Pogba practically slunk away in extra-time when everyone – including the stadium announcer – was expecting Dan James to replace Marcus Rashford.
Gerard Moreno (centre) tucked Villarreal into the lead against the run of play after a set piece caught United out once again
Moreno was mobbed by his team-mates and Villarreal would go on to stun United once again with the triumph on penalties
United’s players appealed for an offside in vain and were forced to again respond to falling a goal behind in this crazy season
Moreno wheeled away to celebrate after finding a pocket of space and duly sliding beyond de Gea’s dive at his far upright
United’s high line were left floundering by the quality of the delivery and Moreno got away from Lindelof to net the opener
Bruno Fernandes, who captained United in the absence of Harry Maguire, cut an increasingly irritated figure in the showdown
Bruno Fernandes, captain for the night, embodied United’s frustration. He was in the ear of French referee Clement Turpin throughout, and in tears at the end.
It was frustration that led to United going behind in the 29th minute as Cavani ran back to make a challenge on Daniel Parejo and clipped the back of his heel with a niggly challenge.
Parejo took the free kick himself and curled an excellent delivery towards the edge of the six-yard box. Shaw lost track of Moreno and Lindelof grabbed Villarreal’s danger man by the shirt, but it wasn’t enough.
De Gea had no chance as the Spain striker met the ball first time with his right foot and did enough to turn it inside the post for his 30th goal of the season.
Scott McTominay looked to take the game by the scruff of its neck for United but one of his attempted crosses skewed out
United threatened in first-half stoppage time with Mason Greenwood’s fizzed ball in almost leading to a Villarreal own goal
Cavani was booked for dissent and his evening in Poland would take another turn for the worse after United’s chastening loss
The goal sparked United into life and they were level in the 55th minute. Shaw swung over a corner from the left and the combative Raul Albiol cleared once again.
The ball looped towards the edge of the box where Rashford was waiting. He had done little up that point and, to be fair, Rashford’s volley was unlikely to trouble Rulli. But it took two deflections in a packed penalty area and landed kindly at the feet of Cavani who scored in an empty net for his 10th goal in 11 games.
Rashford wasted the best chance to score a decisive goal in normal time, allowing the ball to get caught under his feet from Fernandes’ cross as he turned the ball inches wide, so onto extra-time and penalties we went – agonisingly for United.
Rashford endured a poor evening and planted an effort well wide of the target – although an offside flag spared his blushes
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wait for his first trophy in charge of United now goes on after his team had struggled to take control
Paul Pogba nodded over the bar in one of the last pieces of action before the end of the 90 minutes and Villarreal’s triumph
Re-live all the drama from Gdansk with minute-by-minute coverage from Sportsmail‘s DANIEL DAVIS…
The Manchester United goalkeeper sees his effort tipped away by Rulli!
Villarreal have won the Europa League!
What a spot kick from the keeper!
20 penalties, 20 scored! It’s the goalkeepers…
That’s so good, roof of the net
Textbook spot kick from the centre back
Cracking effort, that
That squeezed in!
That’s the best of the lot
Another top penalty
That’s as cool as you can get, brilliant
Ooof, Rulli got close to that! Great penalty, though
Right down the middle
And still we go on!
The pressure is on now…
Another stutter, and another cool conversion
Brilliant effort, straight in the corner
Rulli this time got close, but the strike went under his hand!
It squeezes in, de Gea got his fingertips to that!
Rulli went left, the ball went right!
Cool as you like, down the middle… de Gea went very early on that one
Great effort, although Rulli went the right way!
Little stutter on that and de Gea went the wrong way
Wow! We go to penalties!
120min: Two changes for United – and these are for the penalties.
Juan Mata and Alex Telles are on for Wan-Bissaka and McTominay.
120min: There are three minutes of stoppage time in extra time!
119min: Last minute now. Any final twists?
116min: So, Axel Tuanzebe and Dan James are on for Bailly and, surprisingly, Pogba.
How will those changes affect the game… or even the potential penalty shootout?
115min: There was also a penalty check for a potential handball from Fred, but VAR deemed there was nothing doing there.
And now for the wave of United substitutes…
114min: McTominay went down on the edge of the United box with Villarreal keeping the ball and pushing on.
Eventually, the referee did stop play to allow him to get treatment. McTominay’s team-mates were furious, with Cavani booked for dissent.
112min: Rashford is still on at the moment, so we’ll keep an eye on that.
As it stands, we are heading for penalties and Rashford, of course, would take one.
110min: It looks as though Rashford’s race is run. He is in real discomfort and is receiving treatment.
Dan James is being readied in the United technical area.
108min: I’m very, very surprised that United haven’t used more changes.
It’s been a pretty poor display from them in extra-time.
Some fresh legs will surely help their cause.
106min: Penalties are looming… 15 minutes to go!
Extra-time is back underway in Gdansk.
It was indeed.
This is a war of attrition now – and it really could go either way.
105min: Pogba clipped a ball in for Rashford, who was caught offside.
That should be that for this first-half of extra-time.
103min: Bailly gifted away a needless foul on Coquelin around 25 yards from goal and to the left.
Parejo delivered the ball in with his usual quality, forcing de Gea to climb highest at the back post and punch it behind.
100min: With United retreating deeper and deeper, they have finally made their first change.
Fred is on to replace Greenwood.
98min: Villarreal have their tails up and are pressing now!
Gomez teed up Moreno on the right, but his first-time strike went wide of the near post.
United are beginning to look very jaded.
95min: Surely it won’t be long now until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turns to his bench for the first time this evening.
Villarreal have just emerged from the restart looking a little more fresh and sprightly.
93min: You can really feel the tension in the air.
Extra-time has picked up where the second-half ended, with United pushing on and probing away.
Villarreal are continuing to stand firm and frustrate them. And don’t rule out a goal for them on the counter, either…
91min: PEEP! Here we go again…
We’ll have at least 30 minutes more. Which way will this one go?
No changes yet from United, either.
We will have extra-time in Gdansk!
90+2min: Heart in mouth time for United! Villarreal won a free-kick midway through the half and teased it out wide.
The ball was quickly laid off for Torres on the corner of the box, but his curling effort bent wide of the far post.
90min: There will be three added minutes.
Time for one final twist of fate? We’ll see…
89min: Not long left now. Are we heading to extra time?
Pogba did his best to prevent it after meeting Shaw’s decent cross, but his header dropped over the bar.
87min: Two more changes have been made by Villarreal.
Mario Gaspar and Alberto Moreno, formerly of Liverpool, are on in place of Pedraza and the cautioned Foyth.
Remember, United are yet to make their first change… make of that what you will!
84min: Foyth has also gone into the book after clattering into Shaw down the left.
A free kick was awarded, but the dangerous situation came to nothing with Rashford eventually slicing well wide from distance.
83min: Bailly was caught out a little against Alcacer in a one on one situation and was penalised for catching him with an elbow.
To add insult to injury, he was then shown a yellow card.
81min: Rashford has looked a little off colour this evening.
The forward looked to try his luck again from distance, but his strike was directed well wide of the target.
Not a good decision.
79min: McTominay has really taken this second half by the scruff of its neck and impressed.
He did well to break inside the box on the far side and drill a low ball across for Cavani at the front post, but a deflection took it behind.
77min: Villarreal have made their second and third changes of the evening.
Paco Alcacer was brought on in place of Pino – and Moi Gomez is on for Trigueros.
75min: Villarreal have just managed to bring themselves back into the game, and out of their own half, to get some much needed respite.
Fernandes defended brilliantly near his own corner flag, though, to bring an end to the move after a floated ball forward.
72min: United are knocking on the door! Shaw weaved his way in from the left and chanced his arm towards goal.
His effort was poor but actually turned into a lovely cross for Cavani to try and meet from close range, but his header was defended well.
70min: WOW. What a miss from Rashford.
Fernandes got away down the far side and clipped a brilliant ball in for his team-mate, who was a matter of yards out and under no pressure.
But somehow, Rashford scuffed wide of the target. The flag was raised, with Fernandes caught offside, but that was horrendous.
67min: Capoue has to be so careful out there. He’s walking a tightrope.
Having already been booked, the midfielder tripped Fernandes. He’s on his final warning now.
64min: United are really pushing on now to edge in front.
Cavani furiously appealed for a handball moments ago after a cross from Fernandes clipped Torres, but there was nothing doing there.
This game is poised on a knife edge.
61min: Villarreal were quick to make a change after that leveller.
Francis Coquelin has replaced Bacca with Unai Emery looking to shore up his midfield. That move prove a very shrewd move.
58min: Well, then! United have turned up!
Shaw nodded the ball down for McTominay to try his luck just outside the box, but the midfielder was unable to make contact.
Fernandes then latched on to the loose ball and sliced wide of goal with Cavani trying to meet it on the slide.
After a lengthy check, the goal is given! United are level in Gdansk!
Rashford catches an effort from around 20 yards towards goal and Cavani pounces after a few deflections to fire home.
It looked close, it certainly was close, but the veteran ace was onside!
52min: Penalty shout for United… waved away after a VAR check!
Greenwood and Torres went toe to toe over a dropping ball inside the box, with Torres catching the United man.
The referee stopped play, but there was no clear and obvious error made.
49min: Pinball in front of the United goal and that was almost two-nil!
Pedraza’s cross sparked absolute chaos in that box once again and Bacca looked to connect with the ball.
United were then able to just about scramble clear by the skin of their teeth to avoid falling further behind.
47min: Rashford will be key to United getting back into this one, but he hasn’t started the second half well.
First a crossfield pass went astray, and then his attempted take on down the near side handed possession back to Villarreal.
45min: Welcome back to our coverage! The second half has kicked off in Gdansk and United will need to improve to avoid losing this final.
We’re all set for the rest of this one, so shall we do it? Let’s do it.
Well, then! That did not go the way United wanted it to one bit!
They have enjoyed the majority of the ball but created very little.
Villarreal, on the other hand, punished United once again from a set piece with Moreno flicking home into the far corner.
From then, the LaLiga side have defended brilliantly in a very compact shape, and United have been unable to turn up the answers.
They have it all to do. Join us shortly for the rest of the action!
45min: We’ll have two added minutes to round off this half.
Greenwood dashed his way down the right just as the fourth official’s board was held up, but his cross deflected into Rulli’s arms.
44min: Not long left until the break now, what can United conjure up?
Rashford tried to do it all himself with a lovely bit of trickery to get into space on the right, but his low ball in was cleared by Villarreal again.
41min: That just about sums up United’s first half.
Fernandes looked to race on to a pass down the right channel, but the ball clipped him last as he hurdled a tackle at the expense of a goal kick.
Unai Emery will be very pleased with what he’s seen so far.
38min: Villarreal are defending stoutly when United do look to settle into a rhythm around their penalty area.
There have been no real glimmers for the Premier League side just yet, with Cavani particularly isolated up front.
They need more if they’re to get back in this.
35min: That won’t help United’s cause one bit.
McTominay got clear down the right side of Villarreal’s box, but his attempted cross was skewed over the crossbar.
Torres was able to scamper across to try and block, but the ball was awful.
32min: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be fuming with that. Once again his team were caught napping from a ball into the box.
In fairness, the delivery from Parejo was inch-perfect, and United’s high line was horribly exposed.
It was a goal against the run of play, but Villarreal have defended well and been dogged going forward. How will United respond?
Villarreal have the lead! It’s come from another set piece, with Lindelof bullied when the ball dropped into an inviting area.
It was Moreno who got the finishing touch, tucking inside the post with de Gea clawing at thin air.
If United are to win, they will again have to do it from behind!
25min: United broke forward at the other end soon after but Cavani wasn’t able to steer a shot away at goal.
Rashford then tried to show him how it’s done, but his long-range effort, which had plenty of dip, was straight at Rulli.
23min: Wow, the audacity of that! We’ve just seen a rabona cross in a Europa League final.
It came from Bacca down the near side, after he worked his way to the byline to clip the cross in.
Trigueros was able to meet the ball, but his effort, with the Villarreal man facing away from goal, dropped over the crossbar.
22min: United aren’t looking brilliant on set pieces. They have been caught out a few times by Villarreal on them.
The latest came into the area and Bailly nodded away as far as Pino, whose strike was blocked crucially by McTominay.
20min: Inches away from the opener!
Shaw fired in a low ball from the left-hand side of the box and, from his advanced position, the cross was good.
It may have been a shot at goal or a cross, but either way it fizzed across the turf and went wide.
17min: Saying that, that was great play from Villarreal!
A really nice corner routine was worked to Trigueros, who was able to race into the box on the far side unchallenged.
His effort was forced towards goal on the stretch, though, and the ball sailed high over the crossbar.
15min: Villarreal have just looked a little shaky so far. United have tried to push them high up the field, and a few passes have gone astray.
This is perhaps the biggest game in the club’s history, so early jitters are more than understandable.
11min: United won a corner, which was whipped in by Shaw but nodded away by Albiol.
Pogba then looked to keep the ball in and work it back into the box, but the offside flag was quickly raised on the near side.
As for Foyth, he has a bandage wrapped tightly around his forehead, and he will continue.
9min: Ooof, that was a nasty one for Foyth. He went in to challenge Pogba, and came out worse off after taking a heavy blow from his knee.
With blood trickling down his face, he will need some treatment and maybe a change of shirt.
7min: There’s the first effort, and it came from United!
The ball was worked to Scott McTominay on the edge of the penalty area, but his low drive whistled wide of the target.
Rashford did well to get down the left-hand side before pulling back his pass.
5min: We’ve already seen a few tackles fly in with both teams certainly up for this.
United managed to string a neat move from one side of the field to the other, but the danger broke down with Edinson Cavani sniffing around.
3min: Villarreal have just looked to get on the ball and keep it steady in these first few minutes.
They certainly move it around well, and have done all season.
1min: Here we go! We are away in Gdansk.
The teams are out! We’re just minutes away from kick-off in this year’s Europa League final!
Let’s have some last minute score predictions, then…
Right then, now is as good a time as any to remind yourself of how both teams look tonight.
A quick note – Harry Maguire is on the bench for United. No cheap magic tricks from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer there!
United XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani
Substitutes: Grant, Henderson, Telles, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, Fred, James, Mata, Matic, Van de Beek
Villarreal XI: Rulli, Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza, Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros, G. Moreno, Bacca, Pino
Substitutes: Asenjo, Gaspar, Funes Mori, Raba, Estupinan, Alcacer, A. Moreno, Coquelin, Pena, Costa, Gomez, Nino
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his United players to ‘trust’ and ‘express’ themselves out there in Gdansk this evening.
Unai Emery, meanwhile, has conceded that United go into this one as ‘favourites’ over Villarreal.
All this pre-match talk is unlikely to matter when these players cross that white line in just a few minutes, however.
The warm-ups are pretty much done, and it’s almost time to get this massive game underway. Ready?
David de Gea and Dean Henderson were the first to take to the pitch for their pre-match preparations.
The United stopper will certainly be hoping he won’t be forced into action too much tonight.
It was partly down to his stunning performance in the semi-final second leg at Roma that United reached Gdansk.
Well, that and the first leg thrashing.
Edinson Cavani once again leads the line for United tonight – and he will look to use all his years of experience to secure that trophy.
His arrival at the club was initially labelled a panic move, and one that was predicted to end horribly in mediocrity.
Well, tonight he stands on the cusp of Europa League triumph, so it hasn’t been too bad!
So, before he steps out in Poland, why not read this piece from DOMINIC KING on how Cavani has won over his doubters?
Well, then… this is a very interesting stat that United will be hoping to throw away come full-time!
The beauty of a final is that anything can happen across the course of 90 minutes, and form does often go out the window.
But this may be a record that hands Villarreal an extra dose of confidence that they can come out on top tonight.
The atmosphere is bubbling away very nicely now in Gdansk with both teams having arrived at the ground.
Villarreal’s travelling supporters look absolutely brilliant in their section, all donned in yellow and making a colourful racket.
A few of their players took the time to show their appreciation to them as they checked out the pitch before the warm-ups.
So then, with the big news now out, I wonder what the mood is like in the United contingent…
It’s certainly an attacking line-up from this man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and there are plenty of names on the bench to change the game.
Harry Maguire being on the bench is an interesting one. Some would say if you’re fit enough for that, you’re fit enough to start…
Here is how United’s opponents shape up tonight.
Starting XI: Rulli, Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza, Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros, G. Moreno, Bacca, Pino
Substitutes: Asenjo, Gaspar, Funes Mori, Raba, Estupinan, Alcacer, A. Moreno, Coquelin, Pena, Costa, Gomez, Nino
They’ve made one change from the weekend – with Juan Foyth, formerly of Tottenham, recalled.
United’s ‘McFred’ midfield duo have been broken up for the final – and that is a bit of a shock!
Fred and Scot McTominay are favoured by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as safe options in big games, but United look like they are going for it.
Paul Pogba drops back from the left wing to play alongside McTominay, an area where he will have to make sure he is disciplined.
Well, there’s the official confirmation. Harry Maguire does miss out, although he has been named among the substitutes.
Bruno Fernandes will captain United in his absence – and it’s Mason Greenwood in for Fred with Paul Pogba next to Scott McTominay.
David de Gea gets the nod over Dean Henderson in goal.
Starting XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani
Substitutes: Grant, Henderson, Telles, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, Fred, James, Mata, Matic, Van de Beek
United have arrived at the ground and their players are looking VERY dapper indeed in special suits for the occasion.
Harry Maguire is there and taking in the view from the pitch. Will he be pulling on his tracksuit to warm up shortly, I wonder?
We’re expecting the team news around 7pm and we’ll bring that to you as soon as it lands.
Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani will look to take the headlines tonight, but come up against a very handy Villarreal team indeed.
There will even be a few familiar faces out on that pitch to add another little twist into the mix.
Etienne Capoue will be tasked with keeping Fernandes quiet, while Pau Torres – believed to be a United target – will be up against Cavani.
Sportsmail columnist CHRIS SUTTON has rounded up the battles you may be able to enjoy in just under an hour and a half…
Here’s that beautiful chunk of silver that both teams will be playing for tonight.
We’ve also got the first of the supporters beginning to trickle into the ground.
A few Villarreal fans have got themselves settled in for the evening, complete with scarves and flags, and have smiled for the cameras.
If you are lucky enough to be at the game tonight, it would be great to hear from you!
Winning that trophy would really cement the progress United are making under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It would be his first piece of silverware in the dugout at the club, and there is just something very special about this date for him.
His heroics in the Champions League in 1999 proved that anything is possible in football, however, and Villarreal will certainly believe that.
This is also just the second final in Solskjaer’s managerial career. His first came with Molde in 2013, when he won the Norwegian Cup.
It goes without saying that the Europa League is a very different proposition, of course.
Unfortunately, the scenes in the city were marred in vile fashion late last night.
Three United supporters were hurt after they were attacked by Lechia Gdansk fans at a bar.
Video of the incident quickly made its way around social media – and CHRIS WHEELER, our man on the ground, has all the details.
Villarreal may be the underdogs for the final but their coach, Unai Emery, is no stranger to the Europa League.
In fact, there was a time where he couldn’t stop winning it. Three triumphs at Sevilla, all in a row, back that up.
He also reached the final with Arsenal in 2019, going down 4-1 to Chelsea, and will want to prove his remaining critics in England wrong.
Emery, of course, knocked out his former club in the semi-finals this season and will want to go one better once again.
Handily, PETE JENSON has the full story of Emery’s love story with this competition. To read it, click the link below.
Both clubs have an allocation of 2,000 for this game and the two sets of supporters are definitely making the most of the trip.
Gdansk has been a smattering of red and yellow all day as the atmosphere continues to build up.
Forget the Covid tests, the isolation, and even the sheer costs, these are the days that football is about.
We’ll be right across everything you need to know ahead of the big game – and that includes the all-important team news.
The big question is whether Harry Maguire will play for United. Right now, I can comfortably say no. But stranger things have happened.
That means either Axel Tuanzebe or Eric Bailly are likely to play next to Victor Lindelof – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also has a midfield conundrum.
Does Mason Greenwood start? Where does Marcus Rashford fit in? So many questions, and so little answers.
Thankfully, it won’t be long until we start getting some!
I’m anticipating fireworks tonight in Gdansk, but that would admittedly be very strange for this fixture.
That’s because the four previous meetings between these two teams have all ended in goalless draws.
Regardless of the approaches we see in just over a couple of hours, that record will be broken.
We may have extra time, or even penalties, but at the end of the game we’ll have a winner.
Of course, it helps where they also get to take home that massive trophy with them.
My colleague KATHRYN BATTE took a look at the previous games between United and Villarreal so you don’t have to. Give the piece a read below.
Hello, all! Welcome along to Sportsmail’s live coverage of tonight’s Europa League final!
It’s Villarreal against Manchester United, two huge teams gunning for that coveted trophy – and there are bound to be plenty of twists and turns along the way.
It will be my pleasure to take you through them across the 90 minutes, or perhaps even longer.
First, though, a quick word on the sides. There’s so much at stake for United in Gdansk. After all, this would be their first taste of silverware since 2017.
It would also be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first trophy in charge – on the day exactly 22 years on from his Champions League heroics. What a story.
But it’s going to be far from plain sailing, I can tell you that. Villarreal are a fine outfit in good form, and Unai Emery knows this cup like the back of his hand.
Kick off in Poland is at 8pm. Until then, we’ll be building up to it and bringing you all the drama as it happens…
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