A mistake by goalkeeper David de Gea gifted Chelsea an equaliser as Manchester United’s hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League faded at Old Trafford.

With United leading through Juan Mata’s goal against his former club, De Gea spilled Antonio Rudiger’s 30-yard attempt for Marcos Alonso to level shortly before the interval.

It was a costly error by the Spaniard, whose form has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, although De Gea did come to his side’s rescue deep in stoppage time to deny Gonzalo Higuain a dramatic winner.

Up until Chelsea’s equaliser, United had been in control yet they remain sixth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play, after a third successive league game without a win.

In a competitive game, both teams suffered injuries.

After Rudiger was forced off in the 64th minute, United defender Eric Bailly, who was making his first league start since 3 February, was helped off six minutes later.

Race for the Premier League top four
ArsenalChelseaMan UtdTottenham
5 May Brighton (H)5 May Watford (H)5 May Huddersfield (A)4 May Bournemouth (A)
12 May Burnley (A)12 May Leicester (A)12 May Cardiff (H)12 May Everton (H)

Will Solskjaer drop De Gea?

With two games of the season left – and United’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League now out of their own hands – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing a dilemma regarding his goalkeeper.

The United boss had to defend De Gea before this game because of the Spaniard’s shaky form.

He was culpable for at least one of Manchester City’s two goals in United’s midweek derby defeat at Old Trafford, having been at fault for Lionel Messi’s second in the 3-0 defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League on 16 April.

“He’s for me been the best player United have had for the last six or seven years,” said Solskjaer ahead of Chelsea’s visit. “He has been absolutely outstanding – going through tough patches is part of a footballer’s career and David will be fine.”

But De Gea was anything but fine as Rudiger let fly from 30 yards with Chelsea’s first shot on target two minutes before the interval.

It looked a routine save for a player of De Gea’s ability, but the ball spilled from his grasp and Alonso reacted quickly to tuck home his first Premier League goal since 18 August.

His save to deny Higuain in the dying moments, with the Chelsea forward clean through, saved United from defeat but De Gea’s inconsistent form remains a worry.

United had Sergio Romero on the bench against Chelsea. The Argentine has not made a Premier League appearance since 13 May 2018 when he kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win against Watford.

It remains to be seen whether he will be called into action before the end of a disappointing season in two weeks time.

Who will finish in the top four?

With Tottenham losing at home to West Ham on Saturday and Arsenal losing heavily at Leicester earlier on Sunday, this result means none of the teams placed between third and sixth won over the weekend.

Five points separate Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United with 180 minutes of the Premier League season remaining.

For United, they will hope the teams above them keep dropping points as they look to avoid missing out on a top-four spot for the third time in four seasons.

It’s not too long ago that fixtures between Manchester United and Chelsea went a long way to deciding who won the Premier League and, in 2008, the Champions League.

United, who now trail leaders Manchester City by 27 points, started well – a delicious punt forward by Luke Shaw setting up Romelu Lukaku, although the Belgian remains without a top-flight goal since 2 March after Kepa Arrizabalaga saved.

Lukaku, however, was involved in his side’s goal, his pass over the top of the Chelsea defence allowing Shaw to hook it back for Mata to score on his 31st birthday.

Bailly went close to doubling the lead from a corner before De Gea’s mistake let Chelsea back into the game.

Chances were in short supply after the interval, although substitute Marcos Rojo had a header cleared off the line by Pedro.

Chelsea dig in to earn crucial point

Like United, Chelsea are also without a win in their last three league games but the Blues will be the happier of the two teams despite De Gea’s late save to deny Higuain.

Victory would have sent the Blues level on points with third-placed Tottenham but they remain well placed to finish in a Champions League spot.

However, this was an improvement after being held at home by Burnley and showed Chelsea do have an appetite for a fight.

Eden Hazard was again a creative force while Alonso showed great awareness to equalise after De Gea’s gift.

Both teams struggled to create chances during a tense second half and the injury to Rudiger will be a concern to Maurizio Sarri.

What’s next?

Manchester United’s penultimate game of the season is at relegated Huddersfield Town next Sunday (14:00 BST) while Chelsea now turn their thoughts to Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg tie with Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany (20:00).

Line-ups

Man Utd

  • 1de Gea
  • 18YoungBooked at 89mins
  • 3BaillySubstituted forRojoat 71′minutesBooked at 80mins
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 23Shaw
  • 21HerreraBooked at 43mins
  • 31Matic
  • 8MataSubstituted forMcTominayat 81′minutes
  • 6Pogba
  • 9Lukaku
  • 10RashfordSubstituted forSánchezat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Sánchez
  • 11Martial
  • 15Pereira
  • 16Rojo
  • 22Romero
  • 36Darmian
  • 39McTominay

Chelsea

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 2RüdigerSubstituted forChristensenat 65′minutes
  • 30David Luiz
  • 3Alonso
  • 7Kanté
  • 5Jorginho
  • 17KovacicBooked at 53minsSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 76′minutes
  • 22WillianBooked at 52minsSubstituted forPedroat 84′minutes
  • 9Higuaín
  • 10E Hazard

Substitutes

  • 8Barkley
  • 11Pedro
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 13Caballero
  • 18Giroud
  • 21Zappacosta
  • 27Christensen
Referee:
Martin Atkinson
Attendance:
74,526

Match Stats

Home TeamMan UtdAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home7
Away16
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home6
Away6
Fouls
Home9
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester United 1, Chelsea 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Manchester United 1, Chelsea 1.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by David de Gea.

Attempt saved. Gonzalo Higuaín (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Pedro with a through ball.

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a cross.

Foul by Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Manchester United. Nemanja Matic tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

Offside, Chelsea. David Luiz tries a through ball, but Gonzalo Higuaín is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Pedro.

Attempt blocked. Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ashley Young with a cross.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.

Offside, Manchester United. Scott McTominay tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

Offside, Chelsea. N’Golo Kanté tries a through ball, but Gonzalo Higuaín is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Booking

Ashley Young (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Ander Herrera (Manchester United).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by N’Golo Kanté.

Foul by Nemanja Matic (Manchester United).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Manchester United. Paul Pogba tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Pedro replaces Willian because of an injury.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Juan Mata.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Booking

Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Delay in match Willian (Chelsea) because of an injury.

Offside, Chelsea. David Luiz tries a through ball, but Gonzalo Higuaín is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Mateo Kovacic.

Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian with a cross.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Marcos Rojo.

Attempt missed. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Marcos Rojo replaces Eric Bailly because of an injury.

Delay in match Eric Bailly (Manchester United) because of an injury.

Foul by Ander Herrera (Manchester United).

Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt blocked. Gonzalo Higuaín (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Foul by Paul Pogba (Manchester United).

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

goal