Villarreal, a modest club from a small town in Spain’s coastal province of Castellon, is the fifth Liga team to clinch the UEFA Europa League title.
On Wednesday, fans in Gdansk, Poland, witnessed one of the most thrilling Europa League finals when Villarreal beat Manchester United 11-10 in a dramatic penalty shootout after the match ended 1-1 with goals from Gerard Moreno and Edinson Cavani. It was Spain’s 13th triumph in the competition.
Villarreal’s Europa League journey started against Demir Group Sivasspor, Qarabag and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group I. They topped the group by collecting 16 points with five wins and one draw.
Villarreal eliminated Salzburg in the last-32 and Dynamo Kyiv in the last-16. They beat Dinamo Zagreb in the quarterfinals and Arsenal in the semifinals to reach the final.
Spanish striker Gerard Moreno was Villarreal’s top scorer with seven goals, followed by Paco Alcacer, who had six.
Carlos Bacca also scored three times to contribute to Villarreal’s Europa League trophy.
Villareal’s Europa League victory is remarkable: with three Champions League trophies and one in the Europa League, Manchester United’s budget is five times that of Villareal, a club from a town with a population of 50,000.
Emery lifts 4th Europa League trophy
Villarreal became the first club to win the Europa League title in their first appearance since Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2009 UEFA Cup.
The huge victory gave the Yellow Submarine their first major title. Manager Unai Emery, however, lifted the Europa League for the fourth time.
The win placed him ahead of all head coaches who have won the title, eclipsing Italy’s Giovanni Trapattoni. The 49-year-old was in charge of Sevilla’s triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The historic game was only the second Europa League final to go to penalties after Sevilla defeated Benfica in 2014.
Villarreal’s Yeremi Pino, who is 18 years and 218 days old, became the youngest Spanish player to begin a major European final, surpassing the record set by Iker Casillas, who was 19 years and four days old when he played in the UEFA Champions League final in 2000.
Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani became the third player aged 34 or older to score in a major European final for an English club.
Gary McAllister, 36, played for Liverpool in the UEFA Cup final in 2000-01 while Didier Drogba, 34, made an appearance for Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final with both players scoring in their finals.
Villarreal also became the 13th side in Europe’s big five leagues to break the 100-goal milestone in all competitions this season.