GDANSK: Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli kept his composure to score in a nerve-shredding, seemingly never-ending shootout then denied David de Gea as his side won their first major trophy by beating Manchester United 11-10 on penalties in the Europa League final on Wednesday.
After a tense encounter finished 1-1 following extra time, Argentine Rulli stepped up after every on-field player scored their spot kicks and he comfortably beat Spaniard De Gea, who finally buckled under the pressure in the unfamiliar role of taking rather than facing a penalty.
In the first European final to be played in front of a crowd in two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Villarreal survived a tough second half before going on to edge the longest shootout in any European final.
The win gave Villarreal coach Unai Emery a record fourth title in the competition, leaving United without a trophy since their Europa League triumph in 2017.
Gerard Moreno stretched to reach Dani Parejo's free kick and steered the ball past De Gea to open the scoring in the 29th minute, only for United to level when Edinson Cavani poked the ball home after collecting Marcus Rashford's deflected shot on 55 minutes.
"This is a dream come true, in these moments we can all remember how hard we've worked to go down in the club's history books," said goalscorer Moreno.
"We wanted to make history and we did it. We played so well in extra time and our fans helped us in the shootout."
The shootout win also booked Villarreal's place in next season's Champions League, saving them from competing in the new UEFA Conference League which they had qualified for by finishing seventh in La Liga. Agencies