Bruno Fernandes among those who disappointed as Manchester United were beaten by Villarreal on penalties in the UEFA Europa League final.
The game proved to be a cagey affair in the early exchanges, with chances coming at a premium, as Villarreal were content with sitting back and absorbing the pressure that Manchester United looked to heap on them. The first goal came with the maiden major chance of the match-up, as Gerard Moreno latched on to a delivery from Dani Parejo to hand the Yellow Submarine the lead.
Manchester United pushed for the equaliser thereafter, but needed a stroke of luck 10 minutes into the second half, when Edinson Cavani scored into an open net after Scott McTominay’s long range shot ricocheted towards him kindly. There were hardly any openings in the final 40 minutes or so, as the game went into extra-time.
It was more of the same in the additional 30 minutes, with neither goalkeeper really being tested, and just like that, the game went into a penalty shootout, wherein none of the efforts were saved till it was down to the two goalkeepers, with David de Gea crucially having his spot-kick saved by Geronimo Rulli. With Villarreal winning the UEFA Europa League, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 5/10
David de Gea was a big reason why Manchester United were ultimately comfortable in the face of the AS Roma assault in the semi-final second leg. Against Villarreal, though, the Spaniard was rather unimpressive with his effort to keep out Gerard Moreno’s header. Barely tested otherwise apart from a punch here or there. Did not save any spot-kick and missed his own penalty in the shootout.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6.5/10
A decent enough performance by Wan-Bissaka, who was alert in winning a lot of stray balls and also whipped in a number of dangerous-looking crosses. However, there were times when his end product left a lot to be desired while he was also caught out of position a couple of times, albeit without any harm being done.
Eric Bailly: 5/10
The only player keeping hold of his spot in the side from the weekend, Bailly looked nervy when Villarreal did decide to take Manchester United on. Otherwise, the Ivorian was hardly called into action, although he did make 3 tackles and a couple of interceptions.
Victor Lindelof: 5/10
Lindelof did not track the run of Gerard Moreno off his shoulder for the opener and was under the cosh in another moment early in the second half, which is a shame because Villarreal did not really put him under a lot of pressure otherwise. Keeps having such moments in the absence of Harry Maguire, which is why it’s no wonder that Manchester United want a centre-back.
Luke Shaw: 6.5/10
The first half was not particularly memorable for Shaw, who initially lost Gerard Moreno before the Villarreal striker beat Lindelof for his goal. But, whenever Manchester United pushed forward, it was he who posed a great deal of threat down the left flank, linking up well with the front-men, who did not always reciprocate with the right kind of output. Tame penalty somehow went in during the shootout.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
Pogba started the game well and floated a few picturesque long passes to open up play. However, as the game progressed, the Frenchman became sloppy with some of his touches and squandered the initiative a fair few times. Did put in the hard yards defensively, making 5 interceptions, but it was his output on the ball that needed to be better.
Scott McTominay: 8/10
Scott McTominay’s 90 minutes vs. Villarreal:
87% pass accuracy
6 attempted take-ons
5 successful take-ons
4 attempted tackles
3 successful tackles
2 fouls won
An impressive performance. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/D5T7woVV0G
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 26, 2021
One of the better players for Manchester United, McTominay was purposeful in his display. Be it on the ball or without it, the Scottish international showed a lot of desire to thwart Villarreal, cutting out several moves (14 duels won) while moving forward with the ball superbly. The cherry on top was his inadvertent assist for Edinson Cavani.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
The first half was a blow-hot-blow-cold affair for Greenwood, who showed some poor touches on the ball but played one or two beautiful diagonal balls. Howeever, as the minutes wore on, he was the best of the Manchester United attacking quartet, showing a lot of desire to make something out of nothing. Could have been awarded a penalty too after being brought down by Alfonso Pedraza.
Bruno Fernandes: 4/10
A lot has been made out about Bruno Fernandes underperforming in the bigger games. Alas, this was another such display, with the Manchester United talisman making some poor decisions on the ball when frustrations got the better of him. Created no chance, kept none of his shots on target; this is hardly what is expected from the skipper. Did convert from the spot in the shootout, though.
Marcus Rashford: 4/10
A game to forget for Rashford, who was either on the periphery or barely made an impression when he did have the ball coming his way. Utterly wasteful in possession, the Englishman lost the ball a staggering 20 times. Did play a joint-game-high 3 key passes, but never really looked good enough to make an impact. Made no mistake from the spot in the shootout, though.
Edinson Cavani: 7/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Cavani endured a frustrating first half, when he barely got any service. Early in the second half, though, the veteran striker scored with the goal at his mercy, as Geronimo Rulli had already dived to save McTominay’s effort. Did not get any other chance in the game, but did make his penalty count in the shootout.
Edinson Cavani is only the fourth player to score in both legs of the semi-final and the final in the Europa League 🔥
— Goal (@goal) May 26, 2021
On for Greenwood, Fred looked eager to make his mark on the game, which also meant he left his stamp on a few Villarreal players at times. Solid enough, though, and emphatically scored his penalty.
Daniel James: N/A
On for Pogba, James hardly saw the ball in the final stages of the game. Converted from the spot in the shootout.
Axel Tuanzebe: N/A
Sent on in place of Bailly in a late move, Tuanzebe helped see out the final minutes of extra-time.
Juan Mata: N/A
A late introduction, Mata was brought on for the impending penalty shootout and he did convert his penalty effortlessly.
Alex Telles: N/A
On for McTominay, Telles hardly saw the ball in the dying moments of the game. Did convert his spot-kick, though.