David de Gea's howler gave Chelsea the advantage in the race for the top four after a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Super Sunday.
United came out brightest and took the lead through Juan Mata's close-range finish after a fine team move (11), but De Gea's week went from bad to worse as he fumbled Antonio Rudiger's long-range shot into Marcos Alonso's path, allowing the defender to squeeze home (44).
The hosts struggled to break down Chelsea in a turgid second half, and Marcos Rojo was lucky not to see red for a nasty tackle on Willian before the Argentine saw his own header cleared off the line by Pedro late on, but for United it looks like a season outside of Europe's elite competition for only the second time since 1995.
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The result means that with two games to play, Chelsea sit fourth, two points clear of Arsenal in fifth and three clear of United in sixth.
Man Utd: De Gea (3), Young (6), Bailly (6), Lindelof (7), Shaw (7), Herrera (7), Matic (6), Pogba (6), Mata (7), Rashford (5), Lukaku (7)
Subs: Sanchez (5), Rojo (5), McTominay (NA)
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga (7), Azpilicueta (5), Rudiger (6), Luiz (6), Alonso (7), Jorginho (7), Kante (7), Kovacic (5), Hazard (6), Willian (6), Higuain (5)
Subs: Christensen (6), Loftus-Cheek (5), Pedro (5)
Man of the match: Juan Mata
United face Huddersfield (away) and Cardiff (home) in their last two games, Chelsea play Watford (home) and Leicester (away) and Arsenal face Brighton (home) and Burnley (away).
How De Gea cost United again
After defeats for Tottenham and Arsenal over the weekend, both sides looked to take advantage in the top-four race. In a fast-tempo opening, United went closest as Romelu Lukaku was found in-behind by Luke Shaw's long ball, but the Belgian had to check back while one-on-one and saw his shot saved blocked by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Lukaku was then involved in the opener, chipping a sublime ball over the defence for Luke Shaw to cut back for Mata, who rolled the ball home on the turn from 12 yards for United's first goal in over three games.
Man Utd made five changes after the 2-0 defeat by Man City; Bailly returned to centre-back in place of Smalling, while Lukaku, Mata, Herrera and Matic came in for Darmian, Pereira, Fred and Lingard.
Chelsea made three changes themselves; Loftus-Cheek, Emerson and the injured Christensen came out, replaced by Kovacic, Alonso and Rudiger.
Eric Bailly nearly doubled United's lead as he leapt well from a corner only to head wide, while Nemanja Matic was fortunate not to receive at least a booking after his flailing arm caught Cesar Azpilicueta in the face.
Chelsea were level just before the break from another De Gea error; after allowing Leroy Sane's shot through his grasp in Man City's 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Wednesday, the Spaniard this time failed to keep hold of Rudiger's pot-shot from range, leaving Alonso to convert off the post from the follow-up.
De Gea had also made errors in the previous two defeats by Barcelona and Everton, and the goal meant United have kept just two clean sheets this season, the lowest of any Premier League club.
Chances were at a premium second half, but United could have been down to 10 men after sub Rojo lunged in on Willian but only received a booking, before the defender himself saw a header from a corner cleared off the line by Pedro.
|Distance (player)||Matic - 11.64km||Kante - 11.76km|
Gonzalo Higuain forced De Gea into a good block during seven minutes of tense stoppage time, but it ended 1-1, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to have to rebuild in the summer without the pull of Champions League football at Old Trafford.
Analysis: De Gea's error costs United
De Gea's howler leaves his team's hopes of securing Champions League football next season looking bleak. What has happened to United's once-reliable goalkeeper?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "[De Gea's] been in the spotlight for the right reasons for so long, now he's going through a period where he prob feels he can do better. No I don't have worries because he is a strong character."
Maurizio Sarri: "The draw is not so much important for us, because with the 1-1 here we have to win the last two matches, otherwise we are at risk in the goal difference I think."
- De Gea has made three errors leading to goals in his last four games in all competitions - as many as in his previous 123 matches combined.
- Man Utd haven't won any of their last four games across all competitions (D1 L3) - they haven't had a longer winless run since December 2015 (eight games).
- Chelsea and Man Utd have drawn both Premier League meetings in a single season for the fifth time, most recently doing so in 2015/16.
- Chelsea are winless in their three games against Man Utd across all competitions this season (D2 L1) - the last time they faced them as many times in a single campaign without a single victory was in 2002-03 (D1 L2).
- Man Utd have kept a clean sheet in just 11 per cent of their league games at Old Trafford this season (2/18), their lowest percentage in a single campaign since 1962/63 (9.5 per cent - 2/21).
United now go to relegated Huddersfield on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; Kick-off is at 2pm. Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany on Thursday at 8pm in their Europa League semi-final first leg, before hosting Watford at 2pm on Sunday in the Premier League.