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
“I knew the final was in Gdansk but I didn’t want to hear about it,” Emery said post-game in comments carried by Diario AS. “We had a very good qualifying phase and we had to beat a favourite to get to the final, and we had a very serious tie against Arsenal. We knew we’d suffer today, but we’ve managed to have some less tense moments.
“I’ve tried to enjoy and live these moments. We know that if we scored a goal we’d be safe but if not, we’d suffer. They’ve had tight matches at home, so we had to play a serious match so that their virtues wouldn’t appear. That’s the toughest job in football.”