David De Gea ignored his own penalty notes which WOULD have won Man Utd the Europa League, with a photo of it going viral online.
The 30 year old Premier League keeper now faces being dropped or even worse, sold on, after his penalty miss saw the club lose the final. He also failed to save any spot kick.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side struggled to break down their Villarreal opponents, with Unai Emery’s side breaking the deadlock 16 minutes before half time.
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Gerard Moreno scored the opener, getting past the United defenders to hit home from Dani Parejo’s free-kick, though the Red Devils did dominate after half time.
They went level 10 minutes into the second half when Marcus Rashford ’s shot was diverted into the oncoming Edinson Cavani who slotted the ball in.
Neither side could find a breakthrough for the rest of the remaining minutes, with game going into extra-time, and again they failed to find the winner.
Prior to the shootout taking place, the Spanish keeper could be seen talking to United goalkeeping coaches Richard Hartis and Craig Mawson.
The coaches also handed him a note to stick inside his towel which gave an indication of which way each his opposition’s penalty taker would go, with Sky Sport journalist Angelo Mangiante tweeting a photo of them.
Goalscorer Moreno stepped up first, though De Gea had no instructions for which side the striker would put the ball.
He then followed the instructions exactly for the next three penalty takers, though each player still went and put the ball in the back of the net.
When Parejo stepped up, De Gea partially followed his instructions, but dived too late to stop the midfielder’s spot kick going in.
The shootout then entered sudden death, meaning one save could have been enough to win the final had Man Utd’s taker scored their penalty.
Moi Gomez was next up for Villarreal’s first spot-kick of sudden death, with De Gea’s instructions saying the Spaniard would go central.
The United keeper chose to ignore them, instead diving to his left, but had he followed the notes though, he would have saved it as Gomez put his penalty straight down the middle.
Crucially, had he stayed central instead of diving, United would have won the Europa League, as Fred scored United’s first penalty of sudden death.
He again followed the notes when Villarreal captain Raul Albiol stepped up, but the defender went the opposite way to the notes.
De Gea opted to ignore his instructions when Francis Coquelin took his penalty, but it did not matter with the midfielder going high to the keeper’s left rather than down the middle.
The Red Devils player almost kept the ball out when Mario Gaspar made the long walk from the halfway line, however his hand was not strong enough to keep the penalty out.
Despite the 30-year-old also ignoring his notes when Pau Torres took Villarreal’s 10th penalty of the shootout, he did go the right way, though the defender put his spot-kick high into the net.
There were no instructions when Gerónimo Rulli stepped up, with the Villarreal keeper blasting his high to De Gea’s left, still however went the right way.
That meant De Gea had to score to keep United from losing, but Rulli made a save low to his left to win Villarreal’s first ever major trophy.
Villarreal: Rulli (7), Foyth (7), Albiol (7), Torres (8), Pedraza (7), Pino (6), Capoue (8), Parejo (7), Trigueros (6), Moreno (7), Bacca (6).
Subs: Mario (6), Alcacer (6), Moreno (7), Coquelin (7), Moi Gomez (6), Raba (n/a).
Man Utd: De Gea (5), Wan-Bissaka (5), Bailly (6), Lindelof (5), Shaw (7), McTominay (8), Pogba (6), Fernandes (5), Greenwood (7), Rashford (5), Cavani (8).
Subs: Fred (6), James (n/a), Tuanzebe (n/a), Telles (n/a), Mata (n/a).
Man of the match: Scott McTominay.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport: “It’s quiet, of course, it’s a disappointed dressing room.
“That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick – that’s the difference between winning and losing sometimes. We’ve got to learn from that one, got to not savour this feeling, but taste this feeling and make sure you don’t get it again.
“We didn’t turn up and we didn’t play as well as we know we can do. I thought we started alright and they scored from the only shot they had on target. We pushed and pressed, but after we scored, we couldn’t control the game as well as we’d have wanted.
“They made it hard for us and closed the spaces. They defended well and we didn’t create enough big chances. Now is not the time to point the finger at what I’d have done differently but when you come away without a trophy, you’ve not done everything right.
“We’re getting closer and closer. We were one kick away from getting the trophy and having a good night. We have to show the desire to improve and get better next year. No [it’s not been a successful season]. We have to get better. They’re gutted in there but now is not the time to analyse the whole season.”
Villarreal boss Unai Emery: “My fourth Europa League success is no secret. It is all about work. Nothing else. For example, in the last week I have analysed 17 United games. Then the players have shown great character throughout not only the competition in general but also in the final. They have been fabulous.
“As for the penalties, we did not practise or rehearse them. It is something which happens in the moment, that’s all. In the end it turned out well for us.
“I think the players have shown a good mentality throughout the competition and in the final. We’ve known how to compete, suffer, score, and we finished stronger than them. Penalties aren’t a lottery; you have to have a strong head to shoot in that situation of maximum pressure and the players have been fabulous.”