GDANSK: Villarreal coach Unai Emery ascribed the club’s Europa League triumph over Manchester United to nothing more mystical or complicated than sheer hard work.
Emery had won the competition three times with Sevilla and was a loser as manager of Arsenal against Chelsea two years ago.
The latest of his specialist victories was accomplished by 11-10 in a dramatic penalty shootout after a 1-1 extra-time draw.
Emery said: “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.”
United manager Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer said: “That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick – and that’s the difference between winning and losing. We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again.
“Honestly, we didn’t turn up. We didn’t play as well as we know we can. We started all right and they got the goal with their only shot on target. Then, after we scored we didn’t control the game or dominate as we wanted.
“We had the majority of possession but they defended well and we didn’t create enough big chances. We are getting closer and we have to have the desire to come back next year and improve. The only way to get the margins your side is to work harder and better.”
Next big date for European club football is Saturday’s all-English Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea and Porto. Less than two weeks further on and the postponed Euro 2020 finals are scheduled to kick off in Rome.