Man Utd were defeated in penalties by Villarreal in a wild penalty shootout that ended in the hands of the goal keepers.
The game ended 1-1 after a first half goal from Gerard Moreno and an equalizer from Edison Cavani in the second half, no side could breakthrough in extra time and the game went to penalties.
Man Utd Line Up and Pre-Match Thoughts
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were the choice center back pairing with Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe on the bench. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a more attacking side with three forwards getting the start.
Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Edison Cavani all together with Bruno for only the sixth time ever. Injuries and the congested schedule has not allowed such an attacking side being picked often, maybe a nod to the future by Solskjaer.
Scott McTominay fills in with Pogba in the middle, an extremely attack minded side, with Fred, McTominay and Pogba it is a bit safer and more possession minded. One-on-ones for Rashford and Greenwood could be prevalent with Bruno and Cavani occupying the middle.
Man Utd could be susceptible on the break with out a true six and Gerard Moreno is great on the counter. Bacca is a good passing forward as well, one or two passes and they could get behind any defense.
It will be interesting how Man Utd linked defender Pau Torres does against a strong and experienced striker like Cavani. Albiol will likely mark Cavani in the area, if Bruno runs at Albiol it could create mismatches and opportunities for the forwards.
Capoue and Parejo will have to do well in deciding when to press Pogba and Bruno and when to lay off. Juan Foyth gets the nod at right back, but he is also a center back, so he adds a more defensive presence in their back line.
Man Utd Go Behind In The First Half
Scott McTominay got the first decent chance in the sixth minute, McTominay pulled his long range shot well wide, it came after Man Utd won possession in Villarreal’s half.
After the initial spar, Man Utd won possession in Villarreal’s half often, the high press by United worked well in the beginning of the game.
The match became a little feisty before the 20th minute, some decent challenges brought the energy up, and Luke Shaw fizzled a cross/shot that could not find anybody or the back post.
Villarreal looked threatening on a couple of corners, Man Utd had trouble clearing their lines, but Villarreal offered little on the ball and United dominated possession.
Villarreal settled and began to press Man Utd back and won a free kick. Moreno got behind the defense on the subsequent free kick, David de Gea could do nothing and Moreno got his 30th goal of the season.
Man Utd dominated possession after the goal and Villarreal were willing and soaked up the pressure. United just could not get that last pass to create a decent chance.
Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford turned it up at the end of the first half, but United go in the locker room down 1-0.
A Goal By Cavani Sends Man Utd To Extra Time
Set pieces and Man Utd not being able to clear their lines properly allowed Villarreal a golden opportunity early in the second half. United’s frantic defending bailed them out.
McTominay did well to bully his way in the box, his shots were blocked and one gave United a corner. Rashford’s shot from the cleared corner resulted in a scramble and Cavani pounced to level the game early in the second half.
Man Utd sprang to life after the goal and had another opportunity but Bruno’s shot/cross went wide.
Francis Coquelin replaced Bacca in the first change of tactics for either side, Coquelin a defensive minded midfielder signaled that Villarreal were worried about United’s rejuvenated attack.
Cavani had a decent opportunity after Shaw scuffed a right footed shot, Cavani’s header looked to be going in, but Pau Torres blocked it well.
United had a lot of good opportunities and looked really threatening in the middle of the second half. Aaron Wan-Bissaka found a lot of space on the right, but his crossing is not a strength.
Super sub Paco Alcacer entered the game for Yeremy and Moi Gomez replaced Trigueros, two like for like swaps positionally, and Ole continues to opt for the same XI, who have played well.
McTominay played well for United, he had a few driving runs at the Villarreal defense, on one of the runs his low driven cross was nearly flicked in by Cavani at the near post.
Neither side could find that goal and the game finished 1-1 at full time.
A Stale and Tired Extra Time Results In Penalties
Both sides looked tired in extra time and seemed to hope for a mistake by either side. The subs for Villarreal were paying off Alcacer and Alberto Moreno got some decent chances in.
It took 100 minutes for Solskjaer to replace someone, Fred came on for Greenwood who looked exhausted and had a decent game for United.
A scramble for United defensively in the second half of stoppage made things a bit nervy, especially after Fred got away with a handball in the area.
Tuanzebe entered the game for Bailly and Dan James came on for Pogba, a surprise given Pogba’s penalty prowess.
The Bizarre Penalty Shootout!
It was the confident and experienced David de Gea versus the young cup keeper Rulli for Villarreal.
Gerard Moreno, the regular penalty kick tacker for Villarreal, easily beat de Gea on the first penalty sending him the wrong way.
On Mata’s only touch of the game he beat Rulli high, a good penalty for the veteran, but Villarreal again beat de Gea and regained the lead.
The next substitute Telles took the second Man Utd penalty and he beat Rulli easily as well, four lefties, four goals.
Paco Alcacer snuck it past de Gea, a slight touch from the keeper. Bruno, United’s penalty taker, had a repeat of Alcacer’s and snuck it past Rulli, 3-3.
Former Liverpool player Alberto Moreno stepped up and powered it past de Gea. Rashford answered smoothly with a stutter run up and never looked down, 4-4.
Parejo beat de Gea awkwardly to de Gea’s right. Cavani then stepped up and beat Rulli, 5-5 and now sudden death.
Moi Gomez beats de Gea down the middle, but Fred smashes it past Rulli’s left, 6-6. Veteran Albiol was cool as well and sent de Gea the wrong way.
Dan James forced the keeper the wrong way as well and the nerves got really high on the field and in the stadium, 7-7.
Ex Aresnal man Coquelin went top netting and easily beat de Gea. A nervy Luke Shaw then beat Rulli somehow, the keeper got a piece to it as well, 8-8.
Villarreal club captain Mario Gaspar beat de Gea as well. Tuanzebe looked cool and composed before his kick and he was, easily beating Rulli, 9-9.
Man Utd linked defender Pau Torres went high as well and beat de Gea. Lindelof got by Rulli as well, and now it was the keeper’s turn.
Rulli smashed it by de Gea and then saved the penalty by de Gea.
End Of The Season For United
A disappointing ending to the season for United, a lot of people in the media and fans dubbed this game as a building block for United, even Ole.
Losing does not mean that United can not go forward and have a strong next season and be more competitive in the more prestigious tournaments, but it is a blow, winning a trophy is better than losing a trophy.