Covid protocol was broken at the Gdansk stadium and the 2,000 Villarreal fans displaced to Poland crowded behind the goal marked by the coin. They witnessed one of the strangest penalty shootouts in memory. Probably the most effective in history. Manchester United scored ten goals, Villarreal scored eleven. The last one, the work of the goalkeeper, Gerónimo Rulli, who beat his counterpart David de Gea.
“This was the first penalty I took in my career,” confessed Rulli, who hit him with the instep at the angle; “I don’t even know what I did. I did not think. If I thought about it it would have been worse. I even saw my wife behind the goal with my children! ”.
The succession of shots and goals is unprecedented. Moreno, Raba, Alcácer, Alberto Moreno, Parejo, Moi, Albiol, Coquelin, Gaspar, Pau and Rulli scored for Villarreal. Mata, Telles, Bruno, Rashford, Cavani, Fred, James, Shaw, Tuanzebe and Lindelof all executed for United. The payroll will be entered in the registers of the unheard of in a sport that is characterized by the unpredictable.
After 11 goals successfully executed for his team, if De Gea stopped the next in the wheel it would be Gerard Moreno. The Catalan, who had opened the scoring of the final and had scored the first penalty of the night, was preparing to repeat the routine. “I was prepared in case David de Gea scored,” said the forward in Movistar, figure of the League season and aspiring to occupy the nine of the selection in the next Eurocopa. “Winning like this is incredible. We have done something incredible ”.
“Since childhood he did not shoot a penalty,” confessed Raúl Albiol. “It was incredible that we took all the penalties and we did not even rehearse penalties: neither yesterday nor before yesterday did we shoot penalties …”.
Even the expert Albiol was puzzled. A leader of the resistance who barely allowed two shots from United in 120 minutes, Albiol became the cornerstone of Villarreal during the long hour that United’s dominance lasted. He finished his great night by scoring a penalty with great poise. “We dedicate it to the president who has stayed at home, the poor man, and has not been able to be here enjoying himself,” he said, remembering, like all his colleagues, Fernando Roig.
“It is incredible to be able to face a giant like Manchester and be able to beat him,” continued the Valencian central defender; “And it is incredible to play the Champions League and play the Super Cup. It is a triple prize that we win.”
“We knew it was going to be a long game, that they would squeeze us,” Moreno said after collecting his medal and lifting the Cup. “We knew how to play the extra time very well and on penalties people helped us a lot.”
The forward reflected on what has been his most extreme and contradictory season. “It has been a very difficult year for a lot of people,” he said. “We have lost family, friends, well-known people. Now we have to celebrate this title in a big way. This was my best year in my career. This climax is a dream, with a goal in the final and a title. All the people of Vila-real deserve it, the president, the vice president, Fernando Roig and Fernando Júnior ”.
The old UEFA Cup thus became the first title in the history of Villarreal, a club that is also the personal work of Fernando Roig. This is recognized by fans and players. Dani Parejo, one of the heroes of the night with his assistance in 1-0, spoke with his throat tight. “Today we have made history,” Parejo said. “This team, everyone, the president who has not been able to be, has fought for 23 years for this and we want to dedicate it to him.”
“We have suffered a lot,” concluded Parejo; “But we handled extra time very well and the penalty shoot-out was incredible.”
“How strong!” Repeated Marcos Senna, the historic captain. “How strong! This may not be happening but yes, it is happening. Riquelme, who missed the penalty in the 2006 Champions semi-finals, has taken a backpack off his shoulder ”.
Unai Emery was asked if his average of four finals won out of five made him a star in the Europa League. “Star no”; He said. “I have 17 Manchester matches analyzed. This is work, nothing more. We knew how to compete very well and we finished better. We have had chances to win the game without reaching the penalty shoot-out ”.
Emery explained why he did not have his players take penalties in the week leading up to the game. “I learned this with a player in Almería,” he said, “who took all the penalties himself and marked them in training, but when a decisive penalty arrived, he said that he did not take it.”