Sports Desk, May 26 (EFE).- The 2,100 Villarreal supporters who made the trip from Spain to Gdansk for Wednesday’s Europa League were witnesses to history, as the Yellow Submarine prevailed over mighty Manchester United on penalties (11-10) to win the first title in the club’s 98-year existence.
While Villarreal coach Unai Simon’s fourth Europa League triumph – he won it three times with Sevilla – cemented his status as master of the competition.
Man United, the second-best club in the Premier League were heavily favored in their eighth European final, facing first-time finalists Villarreal, who finished seventh in LaLiga.
Talent-laden United set the pace from the start in front of 8,000 spectators in the Polish port city and would finish the 120+ minutes of regulation and extra time with 61 percent possession.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men struggled to translate their dominance into chances and Villarreal drew first blood thanks to Gerard Moreno, who converted a Dani Parejo free kick in the 29th minute.
Coincidently, Moreno’s seventh goal of the Europa League campaign and 30th of the season overall made him Villarreal’s all-time leading scorer.
United kept Villarreal penned up in their own area for the rest of the first half, but the Spanish side went to the dressing room up 1-0.
Ten minutes into the second half, Edinson Cavani brought United level with his 10th goal in the last 11 matches.
The Uruguayan striker was poised to put his team ahead in the 71st minute, but Pau Torres blocked the header with a perfectly timed leap and the score remained 1-1 at the end of regulation.
Villarreal sprang to life in the extra-time. Moreno narrowly missed the target in the 99th minute, a minute before Paco Alcacer fired over the United cross-bar.
Fred blocked a goal-bound strike from Gerard in the 113th minute, which turned out to be the last meaningful action before the shootout.
Every outfield player for both teams scored and it came down to the goalkeepers: Gero Rulli for Villarreal and Spain international David de Gea for the Red Devils.
Rulli converted from the spot with a solid effort and then denied his counterpart to win the title for Villarreal. EFE