Villarreal won the Europa League with a spectacular penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in Gdansk, as David de Gea missed the crucial kick after the other 21 players scored.
Gerard Moreno’s 30th goal of the season gave the Spanish side a lead in the first half, but Edinson Cavani equalized after the break and extra time couldn’t separate the teams.
Remarkably, all ten outfielders on both sides found the net with their kicks, before Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli became the hero, crushing his own penalty and then refusing De Gea.
It was a heartbreaking end to a promising season for United, who finished as a Premier League runner-up and showed clear signs of progress.
But set pieces in defense have always been a problem and Moreno opened the scoring by meeting Dani Parejo’s formidable free kick all too easily.
Cavani equalized early in the second half after Marcus Rashford’s volley fell nicely for him from close and Villarreal hung on for extra time, which Unai Emery’s men edged out before triumphing on penalties .
Success-hungry Villarreal fans went wild at Stadion Gdansk, where you wouldn’t know there were only 9,500 entrants given the din from start to finish.
The Red Devils saw a good start run out of steam, with United target Pau Torres heading towards Carlos Bacca’s outrageous Rabona cross.
Luke Shaw blew up a dangerous cross on the other end and Rashford saw a hoped-for long-range strike saved, but United stuttered and Villarreal started from a free kick in the 29th minute.
Moreno took off Shaw as Parejo’s ball entered, Victor Lindelof being caught by the Spanish sniper run behind him as he headed past De Gea – selected in place of Dean Henderson – to send the wall of yellow wild.
Solskjaer was furious on the sideline and his mood did not improve with United’s soft response.
Raul Albiol almost turned a Mason Greenwood cross into his own net in the stoppage time and United came back early for the second half, which started with former Villarreal defender Eric Bailly almost putting his side in trouble .
But United improved a lot overall after halftime. The video assistant referee decided not to award a penalty for Alfonso Pedraza’s challenge on Greenwood and Solskjaer’s side leveled in the 55th minute.
Scott McTominay saw a shot blocked behind for a corner, which was flipped over by Shaw and cleared only to Rashford on the edge of the box.
The volley ricocheted off Pedraza and McTominay, mistaken goalkeeper Rulli as Cavani reacted the fastest to get home after six yards.
The veteran picked up the ball and ran straight to the halfway line, the goal being awarded after a long VAR check for offside in preparation.
Bruno Fernandes – team captain with Harry Maguire just fit enough for the bench – shot wide as United maintained their renewed intensity, handball calls against Torres ignored.
Rashford was relieved to see the offside flag raised after turning widely from close range, Cavani seeing a header stuck on a trained Shaw cross moments later.
Rashford released a snapshot as Villarreal dug deep, with Paul Pogba heading before the game went into overtime.
Villarreal looked energetic and more dangerous in the first half of added time – a little surprise given that Solskjaer didn’t make his first change until the 100th minute.
The tension increased as the match approached penalties, with Fred escaping an exam after a shot to strike his hand.
United offered a valuable little threat during extra time and the game went on kicking.
There were brilliant penalties, close shaves and poor save attempts, all of the outfielders finding the net as it descended towards the goalkeepers.
Villarreal goalkeeper Rulli scored and then stopped De Gea to end United’s hopes of ending their four-year wait for a trophy in Solskjaer’s first final in charge.
Additional reports by PA.