Football Features

“They can’t get over the line” – Player ratings as Unai Emery’s Villarreal outlast Manchester United 11-10 on penalties to win their first-ever Europa League

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 23:34, 26 May 2021 | Updated: 18:06, 24 November 2022

In a tight and tense night of football, Villarreal beat Manchester United 11-10 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the Europa League final.

The win was Villarreal’s first-ever major trophy and Unai Emery’s fourth Europa League as his side out-thought and out-lasted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. The Norwegian fell so far short on the night that Paul Scholes was compelled to question him post-match:ย “United have become a nice club, that people like,” said the United level.

When asked if Manchester United had a winning mentality, Rio Ferdinand said: “they obviously do because they can’t get over the line. Semi-finals, now a final,” adding: “they need to start turning finals into actual silverware.”

“It’s not just about buying players, it’s got to be the manager,” the former United man said.

Here’s how the players rated at Stadion Gdansk:


Geronimo Rulli – 7 – Had basically nothing to do until the shootout which he plodded through until the every end where he buried his penalty and then saved David de Gea’s to win the trophy for Villarreal.

Juan Foyth – 8 – Rolled over the ball and his head collided with Pogba’s knee early but recovered to put in an incredible display at right-back. Bagged a game-high 6 tackles and a team-high 3 interceptions as he put Marcus Rashford in his back-pocket.

Raul Albiol – 9 – A pillar at the back for Villarreal. Great “block” to release Moreno for the opening goal as well, plus he very calmly sent De Gea the wrong way in the shootout. The best player on the pitch and after many years of being overlooked compared to compatriots Gerard Piquรฉ and Sergio Ramos, he finally has a major European success to call his own. Surely has to be called up for Euro 2020 by Luis Enrique at this point? He has two extra slots!

Pau Torres – 8 – A really solid display in defence including a couple of key blocks. Absolutely slammed his penalty top bins.

Alfonso Pedraza – 6 – Couldn’t handle Greenwood or Rashford 1-v-1 but United rarely asked him to.

Yeremy Pino – 7 – A livewire on the break and defensively. The teenager set a record as the youngest Spaniard to appear in a European final but his impact was limited to 4 tackles.

Etienne Capoue – 8 – Stuck to Bruno Fernandes like glue and really hampered the Portuguese’s ability to influence the game.

Dani Parejo- 8 – Deadly from set-pieces all night long. Lasered the ball around the pitch from open play too. Buried his penalty.

Manu Trigueros – 7 – Worked tirelessly to stifle United, racking up 5 tackles, ths most while he was on the field.

Gerard Moreno – 8 – Relentlessly committed in defence and then still managed to pop up with the opening goal, his 30th of the season. Calmly sent David de Gea the wrong way in the shootout as well.

Carlos Bacca – 6 – Solid forward play for an hour, working the United centre-backs well. Even produced a rabona cross!


Francis Coquelin (for Bacca 60′) – 7 – Put himself about and helped Villarreal stymie the dominant United attack. Slammed his penalty right into the top corner.

Paco Alcacer (for Pina 77′) – 6 – Missed a good chance in the second-half. Only just squeezed his penalty under De Gea.

Moi Gomez (for Trigueros 78′) – 6 – Came on late. Scored his penalty.

Alberto Moreno (for Pedraza 88′) – 7 – Added so much burst when he came on, driving at United and creating danger. Drove his penalty home in the shootout.

Mario Gaspar (for Foyth 88′) – 6 – Came on late, wasn’t tested. Buried his penalty.

Dani Raba (for Capoue 123′) – 6 – Came on late for the shootout. Scored.

Manchester United

David de Gea – 3 – Could have come off his line to claim the cross for Villarreal’s goal and didn’t. Had little to do in attack and then put in an absolutely miserable showing in the shootout, slumping around his line as though he was half-asleep and missing a few saveable shots. Spluttered a pathetic penalty in the shootout to hand the trophy to Villarreal.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6 – Solid.

Eric Bailly – 6 – Erratic.

Victor Lindelof – 6 – Soft as tissue paper on the Villarreal goal but what else is new? Played reasonably well besides that but only because Villarreal never really pushed him.

Luke Shaw – 7 – Let Gerard Moreno run off him on the Villarreal goal. Decent otherwise as he constantly tried to drive United forward. Made a team-high 4 clearances.

Scott McTominay – 8 – Skewed an early shot wide and looked a passenger, but really stepped it up second-half, driving the team forward with some surprisingly deft touches (also picked up an intentional assist as he deflected Rashford’s shot into Cavani’s path). A battling display and the only United player who can truly leave the pitch with his head held high.

Paul Pogba – 6 – An incredibly composed presence both in attack and defence (a game-high 5 interceptions). Play some superb passes in the first-half but notably tired as the game wore on.

Bruno Fernandes – 6 – Always trying to get involved but Villarreal were determined to mark him out of the game and they did a great job at that. Largely ineffective but buried his penalty, which is worth a one point bump.

Mason Greenwood – 6 – Looked sharp with some neat movements but couldn’t get into the game as an attacking force.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Very rusty for the most part but produced one or two moments of magic including a delirious nutmeg and a snapshot that led to the United equaliser. Those two moments aside he was absolutely abysmal, quite clearly barely fit and playing through pain. Slammed home his penalty in the shootout for a one point bump.

Was far better in his post-match interview, making no excuses for United, reiterating that they weren’t good enough on the night and that: “second is nothing,” but insisting that the United side will not be stopped here. “just because we lost today, doesn’t mean we give up. I promise you, I promise the fans, we will not give up.”

Rashford was on fire, reiterating: “we are close, but close is not good enough.”

“Doesn’t feel like it’s close to me,” was Paul Scholes’ retort in the studio, however. Time will tell who is correct.

Edinson Cavani – 7 – Relentless as ever. His movement baffled Villarreal he just needed a team-mate to find his runs. Scored United’s equaliser with a neat bit of poaching to stab home the rebound.


Fred (for Greenwood 100′) – 6 – Ran around a bunch. Scored an incredible penalty.

Daniel James (for Pogba 116′) – 6 – Came on late. Too late to have an impact which his pressing and pace made him more than capable of doing. Still, scored his penalty well.

Axel Tuanzebe (for Bailly 116′) – 6 – Scored his penalty with no hesitation.

Juan Mata (for Wan-Bissaka 123′) – 7 – Came on late to take a penalty, and scored it superbly to open the shootout.

Alex Telles (for McTominay 123′) – 7 – Came on and buried his penalty with superb confidence.