Manchester United suffered penalty heartbreak as Villarreal beat them 11-10 in the shootout following a 1-1 draw in regular time.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came into the side as the overwhelming favourites after finishing runners-up in the Premier League, with a vast array of stars within their ranks.
But right from the off, Villarreal looked more than their match and actually took the lead through Gerard Moreno in the first-half.
Edinson Cavani struck back in the second, but following that, both sides cancelled each other out almost waiting for the dreaded penalty shootout.
If there were any nerves at that stage, neither side showed it as the first 21 penalties were stroked home. That was until David de Gea’s penalty was saved, earning Villarreal their very first European crown.
It was a humbling night for United, whose wait for a trophy under Solskjaer continues, on a night many expected them to win.
Speaking shortly before kick-off, Red Devils legend Paul Scholes was of the belief his old side would have a relatively comfortable evening against a side he deemed vastly inferior.
“You’re playing Villarreal here,” Scholes told BT Sport. “You’re playing a team that finished 7th in a really poor La Liga. Think of Real Madrid and Barcelona, how bad have they been? Manchester United should win this game comfortably.”
Although their league position isn’t impressive on the whole, Unai Emery has made a career of prioritising the Europa League and did similar in the closing months of this campaign.
In Europe, Villarreal were unbeaten throughout their run to the final, including wins over RB Salzburg and Arsenal.
It became quickly apparent that Scholes had underestimated the other side competing in the showpiece event.
Scholes’ next pre-match forecast involved Tottenham loanee Juan Foyth.
The Argentinian has had few chances during his three seasons in north London, falling completely out of favour following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure in 2019.
However, since joining the Yellow Submarine last September, he has managed to find a place in Emery’s side, albeit not in his natural position.
In Gdansk, the 23-year-old started on the right-hand side of Villarreal’s defence, faced with the difficult looking task of containing Marcus Rashford.
Ahead of kick-off, Scholes felt that the United man would have his way with Foyth, highlighting it as an area they could dominate.
He said: “Foyth was a bad centre-back at Tottenham, now he’s playing right back, how can Rashford not destroy him?!”
And after an inauspicious start which saw him smash his face off the ball, Scholes’ prediction looked like it may have some legs.
But on the whole, he completely negated Rashford, as he endured a frustrating 90 minutes.
Foyth was beginning to tire in the closing stages, so when Emery brought him off before the full-time whistle, he was able to leave the field as a hero.
Even after Moreno’s goal had the Spaniards leading at half-time, it may have been a time to recalibrate his pre-match assessment after watching Villarreal’s disciplined approach.
That wasn’t the case however, with the BT Sport pundit believing one goal would lead to many more.
“I’m still confident. They’ve been in this position a lot of times this season. I think if they’re patient, they’ll open this team up. They’ll get one goal and two or three will come.”
Cavabi’s equaliser minutes into the second half gave that hypothesis plenty of time to come true, but Emery’s men are made of sterner stuff and stood up to the little pressure United exerted upon them.
In truth, Villarreal didn’t look too worried for much of the evening, in another wild miscalculation on Scholes’ part.