Bruno Fernandes was reduced to tears after Manchester United’s agonising penalty shootout defeat against Villarreal in the Europa League final – and he was not alone in looking heartbroken.
Paul Pogba removed his silver medal immediately after being presented with it on the podium during the trophy ceremony and hung his head, while Marcus Rashford hid his face in his shirt and was a picture of misery as he sat on the bench reflecting on the shock loss, as did Fred. Victor Lindelof also looked close to tears, while Edinson Cavani looked aghast.
The images come in sharp contrast to the comments of Paul Scholes, who claimed on BT Sport after the game that defeat ‘doesn’t hurt’ many of United’s players and that losing was now ‘acceptable’ at the club with which he once dominated England.
Talisman Fernandes played an inspirational role in getting United to Gdansk, having scored five times and assisted four from his nine games in the Europa League this season – but he was unable to make an impact in the showpiece match and was left sobbing after they fell at the last hurdle.
David de Gea’s penalty miss handed Villarreal an 11-10 victory and boss Unai Emery his fourth Europa League triumph.
Bruno Fernandes was reduced to tears after Manchester United lost the Europa League final
Paul Pogba tried to console a visibly heartbroken Fernandes after the final whistle in Gdansk
Pogba removed his silver medal immediately after being presented with it on the podium
Edinson Cavani looked distraught as he came to terms with losing out in the showpiece
Marcus Rashford howled in frustration during the game (left) then looked disconsolate after
Wednesday’s final was United’s only opportunity to claim silverware this season but the defeat meant they finish it empty handed.
A crestfallen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side ‘didn’t turn up’ and hopes they will learn from the crushing defeat.
‘We’ve got to, not savour this one, but taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again,’ he said.
Fred was clearly hurt by the defeat as he slumped on the bench after the game
Victor Lindelof was another who looked close to tears after United lost on penalties
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wait for silverware as United manager goes on after defeat in Gdansk
‘It’s quiet [in the dressing room] of course. It’s a disappointed dressing room. That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick and that’s the difference between winning and losing. Got to learn from that one.
‘Now is not the time to point the finger at what I’d have done differently. But when you come out without the trophy you haven’t done everything right.
‘We’re getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night.
‘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.
‘Can Manchester United call this season a success? No.’
Former United midfielder Paul Scholes slammed the side’s mentality after the chastening loss
Club legend Scholes criticised United’s mentality after the match and questioned whether losing the final would really hurt the players.
Scholes himself won the Premier League 11 times, plus the Champions League twice, the FA Cup three times and the League Cup twice during an era when United were all-conquering domestically and consistently challenging to be the best side in Europe.
‘It’s difficult to come out of that game and give them credit, they weren’t good tonight,’ Scholes told BT Sport .
‘Overall there has been progress. But does losing hurt them enough? It’s almost become an accepted thing. From Ole’s point of view, where is the demands?
‘He has made progress, but this club expects to win trophies. If it gets into the next couple of years and there’s still nothing he might have a problem. There aren’t the demands there where he has to win.
‘A few players, it doesn’t hurt them. Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani, they won’t like it. They look like they’re proper hurt, the others it can look acceptable, even from the manager. They’ve become a nice club.’
Portuguese star Fernandes could not inspire United to victory as they lost against Villarreal
Rashford pulled no punches in his post-match interview, stressing that United’s season, in which they also finished second in the Premier League behind rivals Manchester City, was ‘not good enough’.
‘Disappointing… the feeling inside is difficult to explain,’ Rashford told BT Sport.
‘We came here to win. We worked so hard all season – this was the opportunity to win a trophy, it didn’t happen. But we have to get rid of the disappointment, after that we will look back at the game, what we did wrong where we can improve.
‘All I can say is we won’t give up. The manager won’t allow us to give up. We come next season with a bigger desire. People say a lot about us going downhill, blah blah blah.
‘For me, the talent, ability – we have everything to compete at the highest level, we just have to show it… why we belong in finals like this, winning finals like this. In the league we finished second, but it doesn’t count for nothing. Man City win the league and we finish second, it means nothing.
‘For us, I don’t wanna hear “they were so close”, it doesn’t mean anything. There’s one winner, one loser. Next time, we have to make sure we don’t lose.’