The Manchester United manager admitted that he had considered a late goalkeeping change for the shootout.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left defending a number of decisions after a heartbreaking defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final on Wednesday night, with the call to persist with David de Gea over Dean Henderson in the shootout one of them.
Solskjaer explained why he waited until the 100th minute to make his first substitution in Gdansk and he has also discussed sticking with De Gea for the penalties that followed the 1-1 draw against Unai Emery’s side.
De Gea couldn’t save any of Villarreal’s 11 penalties and it was his spot-kick that was saved to hand the Europa League trophy to the La Liga outfit.
DAVID DE GEA MISSES! ❌
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) May 26, 2021
De Gea doesn’t have the best record when it comes to saving penalties, with his last official spot-kick save coming in 2016, while substitute stopper Henderson has enjoyed more recent success with penalty saves.
“You go through every scenario, of course, and it had crossed my mind in the build-up to the game but we were confident in David and we’d prepared,” Solskjaer said in his post-match press conference.
“Anything can happen in a penalty shootout. I stuck with the ‘keeper who played all of the game.
David de Gea and Dean Henderson
“I’ve got to say the penalty shootout was high quality, but we didn’t do enough in the 120 minutes to score more goals and, of course, that’s the disappointing bit.
“We built pressure, we had moments where we felt if we can just kick on a little bit now we could get the goal but we just couldn’t.”
The penalties scored by both sides were some of the best seen in a European final, however some eyebrows were raised when it appeared that United captain on the night, Bruno Fernandes, opted to go second in the shootout.
Statistically, teams who go first in penalty shootouts have a better chance of winning but Solskjaer has not spoken with Fernandes about who won the toss or how the decision for United to go second was reached.
“I’ve not asked Bruno who won the toss,” Solskjaer said. “I let him get on with it.
“We had penalty-takers with confidence, we made some changes to get them on to take the penalties and we just couldn’t stop them scoring.”