MANCHESTER UNITED 1, CHELSEA 1
David De Gea conceded another howler just before half time to allow Chelsea to equalise through Marcos Alonso after Manchester United had taken an early lead with Juan Mata’s 11th minute strike.
In a weekend where both Tottenham and Arsenal suffered defeats the race for top four looks like going to the wire just like the title race itself with no side able to wrestle decisive control following De Gea’s third high profile error in 5 days.Embed from Getty Images
But Chelsea’s equaliser meant that the Blues have control of the race for a top 4 finish with just two league games to go after United have now only won two games out of the last 10.
United remained in 6th place, with 65 points, while Chelsea remained in control of 4th place with 68 points and a vastly superior goal difference over the Reds.
Even though they have the kindest of fixtures ahead the chances of United qualifying for next season’s Champions League look bleak.
The Reds are still relying on slips by both Arsenal and Chelsea in their remaining games while hoping for a wins away at Huddersfield Town and at home to Cardiff City in their final fixture of the season.
Both sides were disrupted by injuries after the break, with Eric Bailly suffering a serious looking injury to his right knee after Mateo Kovacic fell on it while Marcus Rashford went off with a shoulder injury and Antonio Rudiger limping off for the visitors with a knee injury.
Ander Herrera had already gotten away with a yellow card for a horror tackle earlier in the game on Marcos Alonso while Marcos Rojo could have seen red for a double challenge on Gonzalo Higuain and Willian.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes from the derby defeat.
Bailly, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Juan, Mata, and Romelu Lukaku came into the side while Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Fred, Andreas Pereira, and Jesse Lingard missed out.
The changes seemed to have an effect and the game against Champions League chasing Chelsea was initially open and exciting.
It was all United in the opening stages after N’Golo Kante had been twice denied shooting opportunities by Luke Shaw.
Lukaku was denied by a Kepa block after Shaw launched a massive long ball down the left.
The Belgian briefly lost control of the ball after rounding Antonio Rudiger and could only lash the loose ball into the sprawling Chelsea keeper.
Lukaku turned provider in the 11th minute when he lifted the ball into the area for Shaw to cut back towards the penalty spot, and the full back found Juan Mata who fired in the opening goal from 10 yards out.
Marcos Alonso blazed a 28 yard free kick over the bar after Herrera tripped Hazard, while Jorginho was off target with a couple of half chances as Chelsea struggled to get a shot on target with United’s reshaped defence in good form.
Chelsea’s defence were not so solid and panicked at two Ashley Young corners in succession just before the half hour mark.
Rudiger’s attempted headed clearance came off Alonso and the loose ball was lashed away by Cesar Azpilicueta while Bailly’s header was wide for a second attempt.
Martin Atkinson appeared to miss an elbow to the face of Azpilicueta by Matic after 36 minutes as the game became more physical.
Chelsea equaliser just before half time following David De Gea howler and then the game became more physical
Chelsea were level just before the break after Rudiger’s speculative 35 yard shot was spilled by David De Gea – the first shot he had faced on the day – and the ball landed at the feet of Marcos Alonso who gobbled up the rebound to equalise for Chelsea from 3 yards.
United had a Marcus Rashford 30 yard free kick saved by Kepa comfortably as the Reds pushed for the lead after the restart.
Kepa also saved from Bailly while Hazard’s shot was blocked by Young as Chelsea put themselves back into the game after the break.
Rudiger couldn’t continue in the 63rd minute and was helped off the pitch, unable to put weight on his left ankle, after a nasty challenge.
Andreas Christensen replaced the German defender with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was going to come on, stood down.
Alexis Sanchez replaced Marcus Rashford who also went straight down the tunnel with a shoulder problem as both sides made injury replacements.
Bailly went down with a knee injury after Mateo Kovacic fell on him and he was the next to limp off with a serious looking right knee injury to be eventually replaced by Marcos Rojo in the 71st minute.
Willian drove the free kick over the bar and Loftus-Cheek finally replaced Kovacic with 15 minutes to go.
And Willian was the victim of a horrendous challenge by Rojo, who recklessly slid in on Gonzalo Higuain before treading on Willian’s ankle and earning a single booking which could easily have been red.
Scott McTominay replaced goalscorer Mata with 9 minutes to go as United looked to shore things up.
Kante found Pedro, who had come on for Willian, but he blazed over as both sides tried to find a winner.
Lukaku had a poor second half and was offside after Shaw slid him through in seven minutes of injury time.
Ashley Young’s corner 93rd minute corner was headed goalwards by Rojo but it was cleared off the line by Pedro in a raucus finish as United went for the winner.
Pedro headed wide from Hazard’s cross before seeing his own cross to Hazard intercepted by Young as Chelsea couldn’t make the most of their late possession and De Gea redeemed himself with a late save to deny Gonzalo Higuain a winner at the death.
GOALS – Manchester United 1, Chelsea 1
Man Utd 1, Chelsea 0: 11. Romelu Lukaku lifted the ball into the area, Luke Shaw crossed for Juan Mata to convert from 10 yards out
Man Utd 1, Chelsea 1: 43. Antonio Rudiger’s speculative 35 yard shot was spilled by David De Gea and it landed at the feet of Marcos Alonso who gobbled up the rebound to equalise for Chelsea from 3 yards
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 1, Chelsea 1
Man Utd: De Gea, Young, Bailly (Rojo 71), Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Pogba, Mata (McTominay 81), Lukaku, Rashford (Sanchez 65)
Man Utd Subs not used: Romero, Martial, Pereira, Darmian
Booked: Herrera 43 (foul on Marcos Alonso), Rojo 80 (treading on Willian’s ankle), Young 89 (foul on Ruben Loftus-Cheek)
Goal: Mata 11
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger (Christensen 65), Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Loftus-Cheek 75), Willian (Pedro 84), Higuain, Hazard
Chelsea Subs not used: Caballero, Barkley, Giroud, Zappacosta
Booked: Willian 52 (sliding tackle on Juan Mata), Kovacic 54 (Kicking the ball away)
Goal: Alonso 43
Referee: Martin Atkinson