Football

Europa League Final: Solskjaer loses the tactical battle, Rashford disappoints plus other things we learnt

It was a disappointing night in Poland for Manchester United as they were beaten by Villarreal in the final of the Europa League last night.

The Red Devils were hoping to win their second title in the competition, but they met a well-disciplined Villarreal, who triumphed via a penalty shootout.

Gerard Moreno put the Yellow Submarines ahead in the first half, but Edinson Cavani equalised for United after the break.

Either side was unable to find the winner in normal and extra time, meaning the match went to penalties. The shootout was full of drama as both teams converted their first ten kicks until De Gea missed for United.

However, De Gea is not the reason why United lost, which is why we are taking a look at some of the talking points from the game.

Solskjaer tactically found out: Before the game, United were favourites given their superior quality. However, they were lethargic throughout the game and fortunate to score the equaliser.

United’s poor display is all on Solskjaer, who failed to make changes when he should have. The Norwegian tactician didn’t make his first substitution until the last minutes of normal time despite the poor performances of players like Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

It’s now four straight years without a trophy for Man Utd. The loss is not likely to cost Solskjaer his job, but he’s now under pressure ahead of next season.

Unai Emery works his Europa magic again: Villarreal’s coach on the night was Emery. A man who had won the competition three times before last night.

He made it four, and showed once again he rules this competition. Although Villarreal never really threatened after the first goal, they were also never in danger.

In fact, United were lucky with the equaliser and should’ve lost the game in normal time. Emery managed the game better than his counterpart.

Villarreal were composed on the ball, never lookd shaky and defended well. It was indeed a tactical masterclass from the former Arsenal manager.

Rashford leaves his scoring boots at home: Rashford was one of United’s players that were poor on the night. The England internation lost the ball many times, while his shooting was wayward.

He could’ve given United the lead in the second half when he was set up by Mason Greenwood, but he fluffed his lines- although he was saved by the offside flag.

Nonetheless, it was a poor performance from the England star.

De Gea’s poor penalty record: De Gea is not at fault for United’s loss because they should’ve won in the 120 minutes of playing.

Still, his penalty record is poor. After last night’s shoot out, the Spanish international has now failed to save any of the last 35 penalties he has faced.

That’s poor for a goalkeeper like De Gea. He can’t save a penalty and can’t score one either. A truly disappointing night for him.

Chukwueze caps off a wonderful season for Nigerian players: The former Golden Eaglets star did not play due to an injury, but he still won the first trophy of his senior career.

Chukwueze’s success rounds up what has been a brilliant season for Nigerian players in Europe. Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi are FA Cup winners while Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo helped Rangers win their first league title since 2011.

Meanwhile, Peter Olayinka also won the league Slavia Prague, while Asisat Oshoala is on course to win the treble with Barcelona, having won the league and Champions League.

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