Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand praise Unai Emery for ‘snuffing out’ and ‘nullifying’ Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in Europa League final

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes struggled to have his usual impact against Villarreal (Picture: Getty)

Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand applauded Unai Emery for successfully ‘snuffing out’ Bruno Fernandes after Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

Edinson Cavani cancelled out Gerard Moreno’s opener to take Wednesday’s showpiece to extra time but the Red Devils came up short in a gruelling penalty shootout, with David de Gea’s decisive spot-kick saved by opposite number Geronimo Rulli.

Fernandes, so often United’s go-to man and talisman this season, had an uncharacteristically quiet evening as Villarreal’s Etienne Capoue was tasked with nullifying the Portuguese in Gdansk.

Scholes and Ferdinand reserved special praise for Emery in their post-match analysis and felt the Spaniard – now a four-time winner of the competition – dealt with United’s biggest threat brilliantly.

Emery lifted his fourth Europa League trophy in eight years (Picture: Getty)

‘Obviously it’s a really disappointing night. I thought it was a really poor game on the whole really. Three shots on target all night, United would be the ones you’d expect to take the game to them,’ ex-United and England midfielder Scholes said.

‘We spoke a lot before the game about the effect Bruno Fernandes has for United.

‘Unai Emery is probably the first manager who has really tried to snuff that out and he did that tonight.

‘Whoever was closest to him got really against him. Capoue especially was the one, [Francis] Coquelin when he came on got right against him. Don’t let him get his head up because he will destroy you.

‘And tonight I don’t really remember him having an effect on the game.’

Ferdinand felt the much-maligned former Arsenal boss got his tactics ‘spot on’ in combatting the threat of Fernandes, who contributed five goals and four assists on United’s path to the final.

‘I just think tactically Unai Emery got it spot on tonight,’ the ex-United centre-back said.

‘Bruno, as Scholesy said, was absolutely nullified and he was close down at all times and the space for people like Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani to get behind and exploit that space – with their pace and movement and anticipation – was never there today.

‘You have to give credit to Unai Emery today because he got them tactics spot on.’

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