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Manchester United-Villarreal penalty shootout: Europa League final’s historic PK display, by the numbers

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What a spectacle it was. The 2020-21 UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday couldn’t have had a more wild and silly ending than what we saw as Villarreal beat Manchester United in a marathon penalty kick shootout. The fact that players nearly had to kick again, that both goalkeepers had to shoot and that 95 percent of the chances went in was just mind blowing. 

It was Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli who scored the winning kick and saved the decisive penalty on opposing goalkeeper David de Gea. If you didn’t see how it ended, here it is:

It was one of the wildest shootouts in recent memory, but how does it compare to some of the others? 

  • Well, it’s not even the longest penalty shootout we’ve seen in the competition in this edition. Back in the playoff stage in October, AC Milan beat Rio Ave after an epic, 24-penalty shootout. That one featured seven misses, though, so it wasn’t nearly efficient as what we saw on Wednesday as the first 21 attempts went in. 
  • The 21 converted PKs were the most ever in a single major European tournament match.
  • The longest recognized shootout was in the 2005 Namibian Cup where KK Palace and Civis took a combined 48 shots, with KK Palace winning 17-16.
  • As for the 21 consecutive penalties made, it had a ways to go before reaching the world record. That belongs to something called the Hampshire Senior Cup, where, in 2013, 29 straight were made.
  • Manchester United have now lost six of their last seven shootouts. Their only victory in that stretch came in a September 2019 League Cup match vs. Rochdale.
  • De Gea has not saved any of the last 35 penalty kicks against him. The last time De Gea saved a penalty in the Premier League, Champions League or Europa League was Oct 21, 2015 against CSKA Moscow in the group stage of the Champions League.
  • Villarreal became the second team in a European match to have all 11 players covert penalties. Skonto FC of Latvia did so in a 1993 Champions League qualifier.

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Wednesday’s match was an instant classic in terms of the shootout and was quite the display of how to properly take them.