Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Huddersfield 1-1 Manchester United: Isaac Mbenza rules United out of Champions League race
Report and highlights as Mbenza cancels out McTominay's opener
Last Updated: 05/05/19 9:26pm
Manchester United saw their top-four hopes extinguished as lowly Huddersfield earned a spirited 1-1 draw on Renault Super Sunday.
United looked likely to continue their fight for a Champions League spot into the final game of the season after taking an early lead when Jonas Lossl tamely let in Scott McTominay's shot after eight minutes.
But Isaac Mbenza equalised on the hour mark when Luke Shaw misjudged Lossl's clearance, and Huddersfield's 10th home goal of the entire league season left the Red Devils four points off a top-four spot with only a game left to play.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's recent problems at United had showed signs of returning soon after their opener and they regularly struggled for intensity and tempo - and although Paul Pogba did strike the woodwork twice in spectacular style, they rarely displayed a cutting edge against a side who have conceded 75 league goals this season.
Huddersfield: Lossl (6), Durm (6), Schindler (6), Kongolo (7), Lowe (7), Mooy (6), Bacuna (7), Hogg (6), Mbenza (7), Grant (7), Pritchard (7).
Subs: Smith (7), Diakhaby (n/a).
Manchester United: De Gea (7), Young (6), Jones (5), Lindelof (6), Shaw (5), McTominay (7), Matic (6), Pogba (6), Mata (7), Rashford (6), Sanchez (5).
Subs: Herrera (6), Chong (7), Dalot (n/a)
Man of the match: Juan Mata
Huddersfield were already in party mood as they celebrated their two-year stay in the top flight in their final home game before relegation, and had even more to sing about after Mbenza's goal on the break.
But for United, it was more misery as a run of eight points from their last eight games officially ended their outside hopes of Champions League qualification.
How United's season officially fizzled out
United had been impressive for large parts of their draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend, and there were signs they had taken confidence from that performance as they started brightly against a Huddersfield side with nothing to lose.
Even so, it took a gift from the hosts for them to open the scoring, when the recalled McTominay picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and Lossl let his shot from the edge of the area under his body.
Whether down to complacency or nerves, United treated much of the rest of the opening 45 minutes like a training match, passing the ball around comfortably but with little penetration of a limited Huddersfield defence, and only a moment of Pogba magic, striking the bar on the volley from Mata's right-wing delivery, came anywhere near adding to their early opener.
They nearly shot themselves in the foot when a poor pass out of defence from Phil Jones was picked off and Huddersfield top-scorer Karlan Grant played through, but David De Gea kept the visitors ahead by saving well with his feet.
After the break things got little better for United, and with an hour gone they were made to pay for their sluggishness when they found themselves behind from their own corner. Lossl gathered Mata's delivery and set Grant away when Shaw missed his interception on the half-way line, and he placed the ball between De Gea's legs with a composed finish.
Following a long delay as the corner flag was broken during Huddersfield's goal celebrations, there was finally a hint of a rally from United in the latter stages, with young substitute Tahith Chong particularly lively, but still their quality deserted them as Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford both missed fine chances, and the youngster was denied himself by Lossl.
And with two minutes to go when Pogba rattled the woodwork for a second time with a powerful effort, it became clear United's goose was cooked - and that the Europa League now awatis for Solskjaer's men next season.
Neville fumes at 'awful' United
Co-commentator Gary Neville told Sky Sports: "This is Huddersfield Town, who have struggled all season. You watch them, they haven't got the quality, but I like watching them a lot more than the ones in the red shirts, to be honest.
"At least you can identify with them. There's nothing I like about this United team at all, it's just awful. Look at them. They're the most despondent group of people.
"It reminds of the team Mauricio Pochettino inherited at Tottenham and he dismantled it bit by bit. Ole will need to do the same, it'd be nice if the club got an experienced sporting director to help him, but the shambles of that recruitment reported in the press this week hasn't helped."
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp added after full-time: "At times, watching them today was shambolic. The last six, seven, eight games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer there have been a lot of question marks. We all looked at Jose Mourinho and said he was the main problem.
"I've no doubt they needed to move on from him, you could see he was damaging the club to a certain extent, and everyone's saying if we can bring in more players in the summer that might be the way forward - since Ferguson left they've spent £744m and what they've done is try to buy the Harlem Globetrotters, not necessarily players to make a team.
"Look at what Manchester City and Liverpool have done in that time, they've bought the right players without any egos. It's alright saying sell Paul Pogba, but there's so much more that's wrong with that club."
Jan Siewert: "I would say that it will take time to get a philosophy integrated and we still need another pre-season to go through it with the players. It wasn't easy to play against Man Utd, which is an incredible team for me, but the way we played, I'm really proud.
"Throughout the season, the supporters have supported us so much and we knew we played for Dean Hoyle today and the supporters to give something back. It has been a very tough season and every supporter has been through it with us and it made me proud to show the whole world that Huddersfield Town is alive and we have possibilities to develop."
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "Over 90 minutes, we weren't good enough. We couldn't put our chances away when we could have finished the game off early on. We had a bright start with the right attitude and the right approach, created many chances and we didn't let them in our own half really.
"When you get the first goal, you then think 'OK get the second and then the game is over' because when you go to these places that have stadiums full of energy, it is their last game in the Premier League now and we knew if we gave them an inkling of hope, they'd be up for it and unfortunately, we did so.
"We are where we are for a reason. Over a long season, we haven't been good enough to challenge for the Champions League places and today, we've ended up with the last hope being took away so it's not something that comes like a surprise. Today, we hoped to win the game and show a better performance."
- Manchester United have failed to win both of their Premier League visits to the John Smith's Stadium (D1 L1); they are the only side to visit the ground more than once in the Premier League without winning.
- This draw ended Huddersfield's eight-match losing streak in the league; their joint-longest ever run of defeats in the Football League.
- Only relegated Fulham and Huddersfield (both five) have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Manchester United (seven).
- Manchester United have now gone five matches without a win in all competitions (D2 L3), their longest such run since December 2015 (eight games under Louis van Gaal).
- Huddersfield avoided defeat in a Premier League match in which they fell behind for the first time since drawing 1-1 at Burnley in October 2018, ending a run of 23 straight league losses when trailing at any stage.
- Manchester United are winless in six away games across all competitions (D1 L5), their poorest streak on their travels since November 2014 (nine games).
- Scott McTominay has scored in back-to-back starts in the Premier League for Manchester United (two goals), this after having scored none in his first 14 for the club beforehand.
- Jonas Lossl has assisted two Premier League goals for Huddersfield - both against Manchester United at the John Smith's Stadium. Lossl is one of only four goalkeepers to assist more than one Premier League goal against a particular opponent (also Jussi Jaaskelainen v Fulham, Chris Kirkland v Charlton and Manuel Almunia v Everton).
Man of the match - Juan Mata
In an otherwise desperately poor United performance, Mata's determination shone through although even his quality was lacking at times.
The Spanish playmaker got United going in the final third on the odd occasion they did enjoy sustained possession around it, and could have scored himself but sidefooted wide of the far post before half-time.
Huddersfield finish their Premier League spell with a long trip to the south coast to face Southampton next Sunday at 3pm. Manchester United host relegated Cardiff at the same time.