The story of Manchester United's Europa League final defeat

Manchester United fell short in the Europa League final. Here is a look at how it happened…

First half deficit

United began the game on top, dominating early possession with a strong pressing game.

Despite this, there were no clear cut chances created and the only shot on target United had in the first 45 minutes was a long range one.

Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Villarreal caught United with a sucker punch after a series of errors. David de Gea’s poor clearance led to Paul Pogba losing possession, and Edinson Cavani gave away a free-kick.

The set piece was a long way out but similar to so many goals conceded by United this season, the defence parted to allow striker Gerard Moreno to score.

United went in at the break 1-0 down, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the biggest half-time team talk of his career.

Second half fightback

Villarreal began the second half on top and had an early chance fall to Carlos Bacca, prompting a goalmouth scramble.

A penalty appeal for United seemed to lift the players, and a free-kick won in a similar position to Villarreal’s led to Scott McTominay forcing a corner.

McTominay worked hard again to fire the ball through a crowded penalty box and Edinson Cavani was on hand to beat the offside trap and shoot low, past the goalkeeper into the net.

Photo by Aleksandra Szmigiel – Pool/Getty Images

From that moment United’s tails were up. A sea of red shirts pushed forward and nearly scored a quickfire second.

Villarreal took off Carlos Bacca and shifted to a more defensive formation by bringing on midfielder Francis Coquelin.

This didn’t stop United creating chances, with Marcus Rashford missing a 69th minute sitter from close range when he broke free inside the box, and then Cavani saw a header blocked by Pau Torres.

A nervous end to the 90 minutes played out and the game went to extra-time.

Extra-time

United came out flat in extra-time, and United eventually made a first substitution, bringing Fred on for Mason Greenwood.

Solskjaer had been resistant up until this point, with Unai Emery making five changes during the second half.

Eric Bailly was then replaced by Axel Tuanzebe while Dan James surprisingly came on for Paul Pogba.

Extra-time was a slog and United failed to create a single goalscoring chance. Alex Telles and Juan Mata replaced Scott McTominay and Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the end.

Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Penalties

The outcome nobody wanted, penalty kicks. It came down to David de Gea to miss the final spot-kick, with United losing 11-10.

De Gea has questions to answer over his poor performance in saving penalties. He conceded 11 and only came close to saving one.

The rest of the team did their job, even Fred, Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Victor Lindelof scored. Villarreal did well, but De Gea should have performed better.

How United got there

United reached the final by beating Roma, Granada, AC Milan, and Real Sociedad.

Villarreal had knocked out Arsenal in the semis, preventing an all-English final.

United entered into the competition after dropping out of the Champions League group stages, narrowly.

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