Liverpool Rally To Beat Villarreal, Reach Champions League Final

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (R) celebrates with teammate Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg football match between Liverpool and Villarreal CF at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on May 3, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (R) celebrates with teammate Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg football match between Liverpool and Villarreal CF at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on May 3, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool held off a stirring comeback from Villarreal to reach the Champions League final on Tuesday as second-half goals from Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane secured a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Villarreal sparked hopes of a remarkable turnaround in the return at the Estadio de la Ceramica after Boulaye Dia finished in the third minute and Francis Coquelin headed in another to level the tie at 2-2.

But Jurgen Klopp threw on Diaz for Diogo Jota at the interval to shake Liverpool into life and it worked, the visitors scoring three times in 12 minutes to kill off Villarreal’s revival and advance to their third Champions League final in five years.

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Liverpool will await the winner of Real Madrid and Manchester City, who play their second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with City leading 4-3 from the opener last week.

Either City or Madrid will offer a sterner test than Villarreal, but after a chastening experience at Anfield last week, Unai Emery’s side delivered a spirited performance that rattled Liverpool and showed why they knocked out both Juventus and Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals.

Liverpool were careless, perhaps complacent even, in the first half but sensational in the second, finding an intensity and pace Villarreal were simply unable to match.

Diaz, who started on the bench but was integral to the fightback, was excellent again and may soon be an automatic starter for Klopp.

A banner draped behind the Villarreal goal at one end read “90 minutes from our dream” while before kick-off the stadium announcer shouted “it’s possible, the comeback is possible!”

And if anyone inside the ground was still sceptical they were given an early injection of belief in the third minute as Pervis Estupinan swung in a cross from the left to Etienne Capoue at the back post.

Under pressure from Andy Robertson, Capoue skewed his finish horizontally, landing perfectly for the arriving Dia to sidefoot in.

Liverpool occasionally threatened on the break, with Mohamed Salah rolling Estupinan down the left and feeding Jota in the middle but Geronimo Rulli was quick to rush out and claw the ball away.

But Liverpool lacked their usual control and precision, with Alisson Becker booting the ball into touch before Naby Keita’s misplaced pass back to his own defence almost resulted in Giovani Lo Celso earning a penalty.

The second goal came four minutes before half-time as Pau Torres launched a long ball from deep for Capoue to run onto.

Capoue’s first touch cannoned away from him but he recovered, controlling and twisting away from Robertson before hanging up a superb cross with his left foot to the back post, where Coquelin climbed above Trent Alexander-Arnold and headed in.

Smarting

The half-time whistle prompted huge cheers from the home fans, whose team were level in the tie, and a change from Klopp as Diaz replaced Jota.

Liverpool looked like a team smarting from a scolding after the break. They were rushing now to take throw-ins, eager to find the intensity they had previously lacked.

Alexander-Arnold’s deflected shot from distance looped onto the crossbar. Diaz volleyed over at the back post. And then Fabinho fired in, latching onto a Salah pass and shooting early through the legs of Rulli, who seemed to have expected the cross.

This was a more familiar Liverpool, hitting a level Villarreal could not match, and five minutes later they scored a second, restoring their two-goal advantage on aggregate.

Alexander-Arnold was given too much space on the right and floated a cross into the area where Diaz, off-balance, aimed an excellent header down and in.

Seven minutes later, Liverpool delivered the final blow, as Rulli rushed out to close down a launched ball forward but failed to get there first.

Mane sprinted clear and rolled into an open net before Capoue was sent off, earning a second yellow card with six minutes left.

AFP

 

Villarreal Playing For More Than Pride Against Liverpool, Says Emery

In this file photo, Villarreal’s Spanish coach Unai Emery gestures during the UEFA Champions League first-round group F football match between Villarreal CF and BSC Young Boys at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on November 2, 2021. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Unai Emery insisted on Monday Villarreal are not playing for pride but believe they can beat Liverpool and still reach the Champions League final, despite their 2-0 defeat in the first leg last week.

Villarreal were undone by two goals in two minutes in the second half at Anfield as Liverpool took a giant step towards making their third Champions League final in five years.

But Emery is adamant that Villarreal, who knocked out Juventus in the last 16 and Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, can still turn the tie around at La Ceramica on Tuesday.

“In the first leg, they were better but tomorrow we are not just playing for pride, we are playing to win,” said Emery in a press conference.

“Liverpool this season have not lost a game by more than two goals so we will have to play a perfect match, to be outstanding in everything we do. We’ll have to find more of their weaknesses.”

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Villarreal sit seventh in La Liga but, after winning the Europa League last season, have raised their game in the Champions League.

“There are several things that change from the first leg,” said Emery. “Coming back from 2-0 is very difficult but it benefits us that away goals don’t count for double. It’s like a normal game. And the home advantage was very important there at Anfield. Here, at our own stadium, we want that too.”

Emery said Villarreal’s star striker Gerard Moreno, who missed the first leg through injury, trained with the squad on Monday but Arnaut Danjuma is struggling with a foot problem, while Yeremy Pino and Alberto Moreno are both out.

“We know what’s at stake,” said Villarreal defender Pau Torres. “We have prepared well, we are a better Villarreal than we were last week. We have our plan, we know what we have to do, we have our fans on our side.

“We have seen a very strong Villarreal this season at home in very important games so we know what we have to do.”

AFP

Liverpool Beat Villarreal In Champions League Semi-Final First Leg

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane scores his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match against Villarreal at the Anfield Stadium, in Liverpool, on April 27, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool are on the brink of a third Champions League final in five seasons after breaking Villarreal’s resistance to win the first leg of their semi-final 2-0 at Anfield on Wednesday.

Two goals in two minutes undid Villarreal boss Unai Emery’s defensive game plan as Pervis Estupinan deflected Jordan Henderson’s cross into his own net before Sadio Mane slotted in a second.

The Reds remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple of Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup.

And barring a huge upset when the sides meet again in southern Spain in six days’ time, Liverpool’s season will finish in Paris on May 28.

The population of Villarreal would fit inside Anfield but the 3,000 travelling support did their best to match the noise of the home support early on.

In stark contrast to the free-flowing thrills of Manchester City’s 4-3 win over Real Madrid in the other semi-final on Tuesday, Emery’s men followed the same tactic that saw them past Juventus and Bayern Munich by retreating behind the ball.

However, the Yellow Submarine could barely lay a glove on Jurgen Klopp’s men as Liverpool just had to bide their time to make their dominance count.

The Reds have now scored 135 goals this season but were held scoreless in a frustrating first 45 minutes.

Mane headed wide Mohamed Salah’s pinpoint cross with the best opening.

The Senegalese also saw a deflected effort fly just wide and Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli escaped unpunished with some sloppy handling from a number of speculative efforts.

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho scores past Villarreal’s Argentinian goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli but it will be cancelled due to an offside position during their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match at the Anfield Stadium, in Liverpool, on April 27, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Another long-range strike was the closest Liverpool came to breaking the deadlock before the break as Thiago Alcantara’s sweet strike clipped the post.

The six-time European champions started the second half at a higher tempo and quickly began to punch holes in Villarreal’s rearguard.

Fabinho’s goal was ruled out for offside against Virgil van Dijk in the build-up.

Moments later, Anfield erupted as the error-prone Rulli finally cost the Spaniards with a feeble attempt at parrying Henderson’s deflected cross.

The last thing the visitors could afford was the floodgates opening, but they were powerless to stop the waves of Liverpool attacks.

Salah was the architect with a perfectly weighted pass for Mane to prod past Rulli on 55 minutes.

The offside flag came to Villarreal’s rescue once more to rule out Andy Robertson’s strike.

Emery was hailed the “king of the cups” by Klopp for his stunning Europa League record, with one of his four triumphs in that competition coming as Sevilla boss against the German during his first season at Liverpool in 2016.

However, Liverpool are a different beast six years on and the limitations of a side sitting seventh in La Liga were shown up as they struggled to mount any sort of response to going behind.

Luis Diaz smashed across the face of goal as Liverpool threatened to kill the tie off with a third.

The English giants had to settle for a two-goal advantage, but they are yet to lose by a two-goal margin in 55 matches this season.

Chukwueze Scores As Villarreal Dump Bayern Out Of Champions League

Villarreal's Nigerian midfielder Samuel Chukwueze celebrates scoring the 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg football match FC Bayern Munich v FC Villarreal in Munich, southern Germany on April 12, 2022. Jose Jordan / AFP
Villarreal’s Nigerian midfielder Samuel Chukwueze celebrates scoring the 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg football match FC Bayern Munich v FC Villarreal in Munich, southern Germany on April 12, 2022. Jose Jordan / AFP

 

Villarreal dumped Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Tuesday, Samuel Chukwueze’s 88th-minute strike at the Allianz Arena giving the Spaniards a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final tie that took them through 2-1 on aggregate.

Robert Lewandowski had put Bayern ahead on the night to level the tie on aggregate after Villarreal’s 1-0 first-leg win, and extra time loomed until Chukwueze struck.

The result means Bayern Munich exit the Champions League in the quarter-finals for the second year running.

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Villarreal are into the semi-finals for the first time since 2006 and will play either Liverpool or Benfica in the last four. The English side take a 3-1 lead into Wednesday’s second leg at Anfield.

Unai Emery’s Villarreal soaked up everything Bayern threw at their defence, aside from Lewandowski’s strike early in the second half.

It was a heart-breaking night for Bayern, who dominated for most of the match before Chukwueze scored just four minutes after coming on.

Bayern started with urgency, but the Villarreal defence was alert to every threat.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann changed formation, opting for a three-man defence instead of a back four.

Villarreal were pinned in their own half for most of the first half as Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez dictated play from the back.

Yet for all their domination of possession, a header by Jamal Musiala straight at Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was Bayern’s only clear chance of a goalless first half.

Lewandowski, who was largely well marshalled, earned the first booking of the game.

The Villarreal back four worked tirelessly throughout, but left-back Pervis Estupinan had a particularly busy first half as Leroy Sane constantly probed down the flank.

Bayern finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute.

A loose pass out of defence only got as far as Kingsley Coman, who moved the ball to Thomas Mueller.

The Germany star slipped the ball into the path of Lewandowski, who managed to get his shot past two defenders and the diving Rulli.

The Poland striker let out a primal scream to celebrate his 13th goal in 10 Champions League games this season.

Bayern kept up the pressure as Mueller went close with a diving header and was left with his head in his hands, as was Coman when he fired over soon after.

Nagelsmann sent on some fresh legs in a bid to get a decisive second goal inside the 90 minutes by bringing on Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

However, Villarreal stunned the home crowd when Gerard Moreno broke down the left.

He put in a low cross which Chukwueze sent spinning over Neuer to send the Spaniards through.

Villarreal Upset Bayern Munich To Raise Champions League Hopes


Villareal’s players celebrate at the end of during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match between Villarreal CF and Bayern Munich at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on April 6, 2022. Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP

 

Villarreal inflicted a shock 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday as Arnaut Danjuma’s strike boosted the Spanish team’s hopes of causing a huge upset in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Danjuma diverted in Dani Parejo’s shot in the eighth minute at La Ceramica to seal a surprise win, with Bayern perhaps even fortunate not to be further behind going into the second leg in Germany next week.

Gerard Moreno hit the post and then curled a long-range effort agonisingly wide after Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer had skewed a clearance, briefly leaving his own net gaping.

“We produced a tremendous performance and to be honest we should have won by more,” said Villarreal’s Giovani Lo Celso.

“We were much better than Bayern tonight,” said Dani Parejo. “We’ve beaten one of the best teams in the world.”

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Julian Nagelsmann’s six-time European champions will still be heavy favourites to overturn the deficit at the Allianz Arena but Villarreal showed again they are not to be underestimated, having already sent Juventus crashing out in the last 16.

“It’s a deserved defeat, we weren’t good,” admitted Nagelsmann. “In the first half we had too little power, we didn’t create chances and we gave up control.”

Unai Emery’s side were seen as one of the kindest opponents available in the draw last month, with perhaps only Benfica placed lower than them in the quarter-finals pecking order.

Bayern, nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, up against a Villarreal side who sit seventh in La Liga, 12 points off the top four, and into the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2009.

Yet Emery’s side have a knack for rising to the occasion, having gone unbeaten in four league games against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid this term, after defeating both Arsenal and Manchester United en route to winning the Europa League last year.

Faster, Hungrier


Bayern Munich’s Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (L) and Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski react to their defeat at the end of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match between Villarreal CF and Bayern Munich at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on April 6, 2022. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

They were faster and hungrier than Bayern all over the pitch in the first half and in the eighth minute, took the lead.

The excellent Lo Celso found space on the halfway line and drove forward, playing right to Moreno, who pushed the ball forward to the line where Lo Celso had continued his run.

Lo Celso stabbed a brilliant cut-back with the outside of his left foot to Parejo, whose skewed finish would probably have been saved by Neuer, only for Danjuma to intervene, diverting it away from the goalkeeper and into the opposite corner.

Villarreal kept coming and thought they had a second although it would have been a fluke. Off-balance, Francis Coquelin wedged a left-footed cross into the box but it wandered off course, plopping over Neuer and into the net. Coquelin was just offside.

Bayern were rattled, incapable of establishing control. They should have been two down in the second half as Moreno struck the post from distance before being denied a simple finish by a last-ditch block from Alphonso Davies.

Moreno’s best chance came just after the hour as Neuer came a long way out of his goal, only to scuff his clearance straight to the forward, who had an open goal and a whole half of pitch in front of him.

With Neuer sprinting back, a long shot curled just wide of the post.

Davies unleashed two shots at Villarreal’s goal while Kingsley Coman’s rasping effort had to be tipped wide by Geronimo Rulli as Bayern briefly threatened.

But it was their opponents who had the best chances on the counter-attack, Lo Celso guilty of waiting too long in the area on one break, before Alfonso Pedraza blazed wide at the end of another. Bayern may be relieved the deficit stayed at one.

AFP

Emery Rejects Newcastle To Stay At Villarreal

Ex-Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 1, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Unai Emery said on Wednesday he has decided to stay at Villarreal, despite interest from Newcastle to appoint him as their new coach.

Emery appeared open to a return to the Premier League on Tuesday night, when he admitted there had been “interest” from Newcastle. He added that if an offer arrived, he would speak to Villarreal president Fernando Roig.

But the former Arsenal manager ruled out the possibility on Wednesday, confirming he will remain at Villarreal, where he is in his second season on the back of winning the Europa League last term.

“No matter how much noise there was yesterday in another country, within the club there was transparency and loyalty with the Roig family and with my staff, which is the most it can be and for me the most important thing,” Emery said in a statement.

“Villarreal is my home and I am 100 per cent committed. I am honestly grateful for the interest of a great club but even more grateful to be here and that is why I communicated to Fernando Roig my decision to continue being part of this project because of the commitment and respect that I have from the club and from my players, which is mutual.

“I want to thank the fans for the support they have always shown me. On Sunday we have a very important game and I hope that all together we can get the victory. See you at la Ceramica.”

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Villarreal’s Spanish coach Unai Emery gestures during the UEFA Champions League first round group F football match between Villarreal CF and BSC Young Boys at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on November 2, 2021. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Villarreal’s 2-0 victory over Young Boys on Tuesday put them in sight of the Champions League last 16.

They are level on points with Manchester United and two ahead of Atalanta in Group F.

Yet the team’s form in La Liga has been less impressive, with two wins from their opening 11 games this season leaving Villarreal 13th in the table.

Newcastle have enormous financial backing following the club’s Saudi-backed takeover and are looking for a replacement for Steve Bruce, whom they sacked as coach last month.

The team sit 19th in the Premier League and are yet to win this season.

AFP

Chelsea Beat Villarreal To Win UEFA Super Cup

 

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (C) raises the trophy during the presentation ceremony after Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Kepa Arrizabalaga was the unlikely hero as Chelsea started the new season as they ended the last with a European trophy by beating Villarreal 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to win the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast.

The Spaniard, who has lost his place as number one since joining the club for a world record fee for a goalkeeper in 2018, was introduced late in extra-time as a substitute for the shootout by Thomas Tuchel.

Kepa famously refused to be replaced by former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri in a League Cup final defeat to Manchester City two years ago.

But this time he rewarded his manager’s faith with saves from Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol.

“It was not spontaneous,” said Tuchel who explained the plan had been hatched in the FA Cup last season.

“We talked about it with the goalkeepers after the first cup game against Barnsley.

“Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties, the analysing guys and goalkeeping coaches showed me the data. We spoke to the players that this could happen when we play in knockout games. It’s fantastic how Edouard (Mendy) accepted it.

“There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline. They’re team players. Edouard does not show the pride to not step off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and take this for the team.”

Chelsea’s win over Manchester City in Porto to lift the Champions League for a second time in May was the culmination of a meteoric rise in Tuchel’s first five months in charge.

The German has bemoaned having to manage a 42-man squad during pre-season and could soon have even more firepower to call on with Romelu Lukaku expected to complete a return to Stamford Bridge later this week for a club record £97 million ($135 million).

But the depth of resources available to Tuchel was on show early on.

Euro 2020 finalists Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Jorginho all had to settle for a place on the bench after their late return to pre-season training, but Chelsea still had far too much for the Europa League winners in the opening half hour.

 

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso slips as he scores his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Villarreal’s Argentinian defender Juan Foyth scores his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (bottom) tackles Villarreal’s Ecuadorian defender Pervis Estupinan (top) during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Bittersweet for Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech had a bittersweet evening as he continued his fine pre-season form into competitive action with the opening goal.

Marcos Alonso fed Kai Havertz down the right and from the German’s low cross, Ziyech swept home.

However, the Moroccan was forced off before half-time in a sling by a shoulder injury.

In stark contrast to Chelsea’s haul of now 20 trophies in the nearly 20 years since Roman Abramovich’s takeover transformed the club, Villarreal’s Europa League final victory over Manchester United in May secured their first ever silverware.

After an overly cautious start from Unai Emery’s men, going behind forced the Yellow Submarine out of their shell and they were unfortunate not to be level by half-time.

“I am proud to represent Villarreal, our project and the Spanish league,” said Emery. “We knew how to compete.”

Mendy scampered from his line to deny Boulaye Dia a debut goal before Villarreal twice hit the woodwork either side of the break through Alberto Moreno and Gerard Moreno.

Villarreal were the dominant force in the second-half as Chelsea physically faded after their flying start.

Tuchel turned to his bench to stem the tide as Mount, Jorginho and Andreas Christensen were introduced.

But the Spaniards finally got their deserved equaliser when Moreno played a clever one-two with Dia before firing high past Mendy.

Neither manager would have welcomed an extra 30 minutes just days before their respective league campaigns kick-off.

Chelsea had the better of extra-time as Christian Pulisic fired inches wide before Sergio Asenjo produced a fine save to deny Mount.

Asenjo also gave Villarreal a dream start to the shootout by saving from Havertz.

But Chelsea were flawless with their next six spot-kicks to allow Kepa to take centre stage.

Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho reacts after scoring his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Villarreal’s Spanish forward Gerard Moreno celebrates after scoring his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea’s US midfielder Christian Pulisic (R) sends a shot wide as Villarreal’s Spanish goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo (L) looks on during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea players celebrate after winning the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Villarreal Beat Manchester United To Win Europa League

 

Villarreal stunned Manchester United after a marathon penalty shoot-out, with goalkeeper David de Gea missing the last spot-kick, in the Europa League final to lift their first-ever major trophy on Wednesday in Gdansk.

It finished 1-1 after 120 minutes as Gerard Moreno put the unfancied Spaniards ahead in the 29th minute before Edinson Cavani levelled early in the second half.

But Villarreal won a remarkable shoot-out 11-10, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still waiting for his first trophy as United manager.

Villarreal players celebrate their victory at the end of the 2021 UEFA Europa League football final between Spain’s Villarreal and England’s Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)
Villarreal players celebrate their victory at the end of the 2021 UEFA Europa League football final between Spain’s Villarreal and England’s Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)
Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Moises (C) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP)
Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Moises (C) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP)
Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Moises (C) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP)
Villarreal’s Spanish forward Paco Alcacer (C) celebrates after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by MAJA HITIJ / POOL / AFP)

Man United Vs Villarreal Europa League Final Goes To Penalties

Manchester United’s players watch the penalty shoot-out during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by MAJA HITIJ / POOL / AFP)

 

 

The Europa League final between Manchester United and Villarreal went to penalties after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw following 120 minutes in Gdansk on Wednesday.

Gerard Moreno volleyed the Spaniards ahead in the 29th minute with his 30th goal of the season.

But 2017 winners United fought back in the second half, levelling when Edinson Cavani scored for the sixth time in five Europa League games 10 minutes after the break.

 

Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Daniel Parejo (C) talks to teammates in a break during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)

 

Unai Emery’s Villarreal were the more threatening side in extra time, but will have to try and win their first major trophy in a shoot-out.

 

Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea (R) speaks to Villarreal’s Spanish forward Gerard Moreno during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by MAJA HITIJ / POOL / AFP)

 

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (C) and teammates talk in a break during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)

Man United Force Extra Time In Europa League Final Against Villarreal

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes kicks the ball next to Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Moi Gomez during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Edinson Cavani’s second-half strike helped Manchester United force extra time in the Europa League final against a dogged Villarreal side as it finished 1-1 after 90 minutes in Gdansk on Wednesday.

Gerard Moreno volleyed the Spaniards ahead in the 29th minute with his 30th goal of the season.

But 2017 winners United fought back in the second half, levelling when Cavani scored for the sixth time in five Europa League games 10 minutes after the break.

 

Manchester United’s English defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka (L) takes the ball from Villarreal’s Spanish forward Gerard Moreno (2nd R) during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by KACPER PEMPEL / POOL / AFP)

 

 

(L to R) Villarreal’s Spanish defender Mario Gaspar, Villarreal’s Spanish midfielder Daniel Parejo, Villarreal’s Spanish defender Raul Albiol and Villarreal’s Spanish defender Pau Torres gesture during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Villarreal’s players gather during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Adam Warzawa / POOL / AFP)

 

Arsenal Eliminated As Man Utd, Villarreal Reach Europa League Final

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) runs with the ball during the UEFA Europa League semi-final, 2nd leg football match between Arsenal and Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 6, 2021. The game finished 0-0, Villarreal winning the tie 2-1 on aggregate. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) runs with the ball during the UEFA Europa League semi-final, 2nd leg football match between Arsenal and Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 6, 2021. The game finished 0-0, Villarreal winning the tie 2-1 on aggregate. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Villarreal will face Manchester United in the Europa League final after the Spanish side held out for a 0-0 draw at Arsenal on Thursday to prevent a clean sweep of European finalists for Premier League sides.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang twice hit the post for Arsenal, but a 2-1 aggregate defeat means the Gunners will miss out on Champions League football for the fifth consecutive season.

Edinson Cavani scored twice for United, who progressed 8-5 on aggregate despite a 3-2 defeat away to Roma.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will aim to end a four-year trophy drought when they take on Villarreal in Gdansk on May 26, three days before Manchester City face Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29.

Sitting ninth in the Premier League, Arsenal’s season was hinging on Europa League glory for Champions League qualification.

But former Gunners’ boss Unai Emery got revenge for his sacking after just 18 months as Arsene Wenger’s successor by leading Villarreal to their first European final.

Emery won this competition three times with Sevilla and also took Arsenal to the Europa League final in his only full season in charge at the Emirates.

The Spaniard was criticised for his cautious approach after taking a 2-0 lead inside the first-half in the first leg, allowing Arsenal back into the tie through Nicolas Pepe’s penalty

However, the Yellow Submarine did not sit on their lead as they controlled the first-half without scoring the vital away goal.

Dani Parejo’s free-kick that dipped onto the roof of the net was Villarreal’s most dangerous effort.

But it was Arsenal who came closest to scoring before the break when Aubameyang’s strike with the outside of his right foot came back off the post.

Arsenal started the second period with far greater intent and wasted two huge chances to edge ahead on away goals.

Firstly, Pepe dragged his shot wide from Kieran Tierney’s inventive flick before Emile Smith Rowe also failed to hit the target with the goal gaping as Geronimo Rulli flapped at a cross.

As the home side’s desperation grew, though, more space opened up for Villarreal to exploit on the counter-attack.

Spanish international Gerard Moreno should have done better when he fired too close to Bernd Leno.

Aubameyang has had a difficult season since signing a bumper three-year contract in September that reportedly made him the highest paid player in the Premier League.

But the Arsenal captain was inches away from proving his worth as his header came back off the inside of the post and bounced to safety 10 minutes from time.

Mikel Arteta’s decision to remove Aubameyang moments later will be questioned as the home side rarely threatened in the closing stages to end their season with a whimper.

– Cavani fires United into final –

At the fifth time of asking, United have won a semi-final under Solskjaer despite defeat on the night in Rome.

Already holding a commanding 6-2 lead from the first leg, Cavani blasted home his third goal of the tie six minutes before half-time.

Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante hit back early in the second-half for the Italian giants, who announced earlier this week that former United boss Jose Mourinho will replace Paulo Fonseca next season.

Cavani struck again for his seventh goal in six games to level 22 minutes from time.

Nicola Zalewski’s deflected strike salvaged some pride for Roma, but it is United who march onto Poland.

Ex-Arsenal Midfielder Coquelin Leaves Valencia For Villareal

File photo of former Arsenal star, Francis Coquelin. Photo: Twitter @Valencia CF.

 

Former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin has joined Villarreal from Valencia on a four-year deal, both Spanish clubs announced on Wednesday.

Local media reported the deal for the 29-year-old, who left the Premier League side in 2018 after a decade-long spell, is worth eight million euros ($9.42 million).

Villarreal will feature in next season’s Europa League under the guidance of former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery.

Coquelin was part of the Valencia team that finished ninth in La Liga after a miserable season for the club, during which supporters grew increasingly disillusioned with the ownership of Singaporean businessman Peter Lim.

AFP