Real Madrid weren’t the only Spanish club with a crucial European clash in London this week. Villarreal went to Arsenal and secured a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, winning a place in a European final for the first time in their history.
The victory will have had a special significance for Unai Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal the season before last. His Villarreal team progressed thanks to their first leg performance, where they beat Arsenal 2-1 at La Ceramica thanks to goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol.
Nicolas Pepe had scored late on in that game with what could have been a crucial away goal, but it wasn’t to come to pass in the end. Villarreal held tight to secure a massive result for the Spanish side, in a game that really mattered given neither side’s league form guarantees them a European spot next season.
Villarreal celebrate pic.twitter.com/SJ8wq4miPW
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 6, 2021
“These are moments of real emotion,” Pau Torres said post-game in comments carried by Marca. “The whole club, all the supporters deserved it, the president, last year’s squad. Now there’s nothing to do but enjoy it and prepare well because while it’s historic to reach the final, we’re not just staying here. We suffered a lot [in the match]. They had chances, we had chances, we had to suffer and retain the character of the team.”
Villarreal will face Manchester United in the final after they beat Roma in the other semi-final. “We’ll face a great team that’s going to make things very difficult for us,” he admitted. “It couldn’t be that the two finals were English. For Villarreal to represent Spanish football in a final is very nice.”