Villarreal's Emery eyeing Champions League after history-making Europa League success

By Sports Desk May 26, 2021

Unai Emery has set his sights on the Champions League after guiding Villarreal to their first major European title thanks to an upset of Manchester United in the Europa League.

Villarreal surprisingly conquered United in the Europa League final following a marathon 11-10 penalty shoot-out in Gdansk, where the match finished 1-1 after extra time on Wednesday.

Gerard Moreno's first-half opener was cancelled out by United star Edinson Cavani in the 55th minute and the showdown was decided on penalties.

United goalkeeper David de Gea missed the only penalty of a lengthy shoot-out as Emery became the first head coach to win either the UEFA Cup or Europa League four times, surpassing Giovanni Trapattoni.

LaLiga outfit Villarreal are the first side to win in their first appearance of a major European final since Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup.

Villarreal will now feature in the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2011-12 and Emery revelled in the achievement post-match while seeking continuity at the club.

"I feel proud [of the credibility of the project] and responsible as I have participated here," Emery said during his post-match news conference. "What they want me to come here for? They didn't want me to come to win the Europa League, because this is very difficult.

"They wanted me to make a job, and the job to give results. In fact, my goal, as I transmitted to the players and the club is to give continuity, hopefully, to be in Europe year after year, with certain continuity.

"Logically, to win a title is something that always is in our mind, and above all, Villarreal build and create the circumstances to be able to have this chance… in the Copa del Rey… to win LaLiga title is more complicated because of the force the top four have right now.

"But we can make our way in the Europa League and now will have the chance to compete in the Champions League. This season in the Europe League our way has been impeccable since the day one."

Moreno opened the scoring in the 29th minute in Poland midweek to move level with Giuseppe Rossi as Villarreal's leading all-time goalscorer with 82, 30 of which have come this season.

Villarreal's Moreno became the first player to score 30-plus goals for the Yellow Submarine in a single season in all competitions since Rossi in 2010-11 (32).

"It's a dream come true," Moreno said. "We remember everything we've done to work toward this. Everyone deserves it; the president, the vice-president.

"We wanted to make history in a big way and we've done it. This has been my best year. Individually and collectively, it's a dream to end up with this title, to be able to score. It's incredible, we're on a cloud."

Related items

  • Cowboys and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore agree to part ways Cowboys and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore agree to part ways

    The Dallas Cowboys will have a new look offensively next season after ownership and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore mutually agreed to part ways.

    The move was reported on Sunday, one week after the Cowboys struggled offensively in a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in a Divisional round game.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy will reportedly take over play-calling duties from Moore, who had one year remaining on his contract and had been the Cowboys' offensive coordinator since 2019.

    Under Moore, Dallas led the NFL in total yards in 2019 and 2021 and also had the league's top-ranked scoring offense last season at 31.2 points per game.

    The Cowboys finished the 2022 regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring (27.5 points per game) and 11th in total offense (354.9 yards per game), but the team managed just 282 total yards and one touchdown in the loss to the 49ers.

    Dak Prescott threw two interceptions in that defeat after leading the league with a career-worst 15 picks.

    The defeat at San Francisco marked another disappointing ending to a season for a Cowboys team who once again suffered an early playoff exit. Dallas have not advanced past the Divisional round of the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl following the 1995 season.

  • Roma working on solution to Zaniolo saga after apparent Bournemouth snub Roma working on solution to Zaniolo saga after apparent Bournemouth snub

    Roma are targeting a solution to their Nicolo Zaniolo crisis before Tuesday's transfer deadline after the winger was "not very happy" about the prospect of joining Bournemouth.

    The Italy international was strongly linked with Tottenham earlier this month; however, Antonio Conte subsequently signed Arnaut Danjuma on loan from Villarreal as a solution to his wide attacking midfield needs.

    Bournemouth subsequently emerged as frontrunners, with the team third from bottom of the Premier League seeing Zaniolo as a player who could help them to safety in their first campaign back in the top flight.

    Reports suggested Roma and Bournemouth had reached an agreement on a deal worth an initial £26.3million (€30m), but it appears Zaniolo is not sold on the idea of joining the English south-coast club.

    Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has expressed major frustration over Zaniolo asking to leave and then stalling when the opportunity arose, saying it "unfortunately" seemed the 23-year-old would end up staying with the Giallorossi.

    When asked about firm opportunities to sell Zaniolo, Roma general manager Tiago Pinto said on Sunday: "I have no problem answering this question, everyone understood what happened.

    "Zaniolo asked to be sold, and together with the agent we found a solution. We succeeded, but now Nicolo is not very happy with the solution that has arrived, and obviously we are all in a bit of difficulty."

    Last season saw Zaniolo score the only goal of the inaugural Europa Conference League final, as Roma beat Feyenoord, yet his time at the Stadio Olimpico may be up.

    Speaking to DAZN, Pinto said Roma would not be able to buy a player to take Zaniolo's place before sealing the sale of the former Inter youth-team player.

    He, too, is frustrated by Zaniolo's stalling on a transfer, with time at a premium.

    "We found this solution following a request from the player and, as you know, with all the limits that we have with financial fair play we are not exactly a company that can yield to Zaniolo's no and take on other players," Pinto said.

    "We are always bound by those limits. Now we have another 48 hours, let's see what happens. I don't want to dwell on this issue, it is really a difficult situation for us."

  • Ancelotti lauds 'complete' Madrid performance despite Real Sociedad draw Ancelotti lauds 'complete' Madrid performance despite Real Sociedad draw

    Carlo Ancelotti hailed a "complete" Real Madrid performance as "one of the best of the season" despite a goalless LaLiga draw with Real Sociedad on Sunday.

    Madrid sit five points behind leaders Barcelona after failing to breach Imanol Alguacil's defence in a largely one-sided encounter at Santiago Bernabeu.

    La Real goalkeeper Alex Remiro thwarted a dominant Madrid with seven saves, the most he has managed in a LaLiga game this season, including three fine stops against the energetic Vinicius Junior.

    Head coach Ancelotti was "satisfied" with his side's showing, though, as third-placed La Real held on for a precious point that kept them just three behind Madrid, having played a game more.

    He said: "It was a shame because we played very well and we deserved to win. We played a complete game, one of the best of the season, but we didn't have any luck.

    "The team is improving and growing and physically we are much better. Now the injured return and we have confidence for the coming months. 

    "We have done very well with and without the ball and all we had to do was score, we came so close but it is a draw. I am satisfied because the team has played very well."

    The majority of Madrid's attacking threat came through Vinicius, who attempted 21 dribbles – the most by one player in a single LaLiga match since Opta began recording in the 2005-06 season.

    Dani Ceballos impressed in a rare start in the Madrid midfield, while Eduardo Camavinga showed his versatility in a fine performance at left-back.

    "We pushed the 90 minutes to the fullest with great intensity, Real Sociedad has not played as they like because we pressed well up top," Ancelotti added.

    "The extra time of the Copa del Rey [a 3-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid on Thursday] was not noticed, we have had a high intensity for the 90 minutes.

    "It was difficult to make changes because nobody deserved to leave the field, the team was playing well and I did not want to change the dynamics. 

    "Ceballos and [Federico] Valverde played very well. [Camavinga] did well, he is an option because of his quality and his energy. He is not used to playing there and with Vinicius they created many chances.

    "The game was good but if you don't score... now we are five points behind and we have to chase."

    Madrid will hope to make up ground on Xavi's Barca when they host top-four chasers Valencia on Thursday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.