Villarreal are champions of the Europa League. They beat Manchester United on penalties in the final in Gdansk after the game ended 1-1 after extra-time. It’s a historic night given it’s the first major title the club have won in their history, although they were led by a man, Unai Emery, who’s now won it four times. United, on the other hand, are yet to win a trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Europa League has been Villarreal’s target all season. They brought in Emery last summer despite finishing fifth in La Liga that year, with the implicit idea of utilising his winning know-how to help the club secure the major title that’s so long eluded them. The Yellow Submarine have come close in Europe before, but never got over the line and emerged victorious, best symbolised by their agonising exit to Arsenal in the semi-final of the Champions League back in 2005.
Villarreal took the lead on the night. Dani Parejo floated in an inch-perfect set-piece to find the man of the moment, Gerard Moreno, who made no mistake with an ice-cool finish to give his team an against-the-odds 29th minute lead. United, famed for their ability to come back from behind this season, found an equaliser in the 55th, however, through an in-form marksman of their own, Edinson Cavani. The tie went right to the wire, with neither team able to find a winner in extra-time. Villarreal finally won 11-10 on penalties.
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“It’s a dream come true,” Moreno said post-game in comments carried by Marca. “We remember everything we’ve done to work toward this. Everyone deserves it; the president, the vice president. We wanted to make history in a big way and we’ve done it. This has been my best year. Individually and collectively, it’s a dream to end up with this title, to be able to score. It’s incredible, we’re on a cloud.”