Report and free highlights as Cristiano Ronaldo cancels out Marcos Alonso's volley with his first goal against Chelsea; draw means Man Utd can only now equal their lowest-ever Premier League points total; Blues eight points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham
Friday 29 April 2022 06:21, UK
A wonderful strike from Cristiano Ronaldo salvaged a 1-1 draw for Manchester United against a dominant Chelsea at Old Trafford - but the result means United can only now equal their worst-ever points total in the Premier League era.
That decline was plain to see during a first half which featured protests against the Glazers' ownership and a United team badly exposed on their own patch by visitors who should have made more of the chances afforded to them.
Kai Havertz wasted three good first-half openings but flicked on a cross from the excellent Reece James for Marcos Alonso to volley in a deserved opener on the hour mark.
Two minutes later, though, Ronaldo responded. A wonderful lofted pass from Nemanja Matic played in the forward, who produced a fine touch and hit to smash in his first goal against Chelsea. He's now scored eight of United's last nine Premier League goals - a strong rebuke to his critics.
The goal ignited the home fans and suddenly there was fight from the players in red - but the visitors continued to pile forwards and only the woodwork denied James what would have been a fine winner late on.
Chelsea's club-record winning streak away from home ends at eight but they only need seven points from their remaining five games to seal a top-four spot.
Those Champions League places are a long way off for United, though, who trail Arsenal by five points having played two games more - and United will now be unable to surpass the meagre 64 points they achieved in 2013/14.
There had been a strangely subdued atmosphere prior to kick-off and when the game got underway there were still swathes of empty seats in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, with United supporters once again protesting against the Glazers' ownership.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Dalot (5), Lindelof (6), Varane (6), Telles (5), Matic (7), McTominay (6), Elanga (6), Fernandes (6), Rashford (5), Ronaldo (8).
Subs: Jones (6), Mata (6), Garnacho (N/A)
Chelsea: Mendy (6), Azpilicueta (6), Silva (6), Rudiger (6), James (8), Jorginho (6), Kante (7), Alonso (7), Mount (7), Werner (6), Havertz (5).
Subs: Lukaku (6), Pulisic (6), Loftus-Cheek (N/A)
Man of the match: Reece James
Those fans eventually arrived in the 17th minute - representing the number of years the Americans have been in control - by which point they'd missed a James rocket and tamer Timo Werner effort test David de Gea during Chelsea's strong start, and Ronaldo shin a scissor kick well off target in reply.
Chelsea continued to put on the pressure, with Havertz shooting into the side-netting from a tight angle before passing up two great chances when he shot at De Gea from N'Golo Kante's through ball and then headed meekly at the goalkeeper from a fantastic James cross. Blues boss Tuchel couldn't hide his frustration on the touchline.
The Chelsea forward let United off again early in the second half, failing to roll in Kante from a lightning counter-attack which left the home side badly exposed, before Mason Mount's hard low cross flew just beyond the reach of Werner.
The visitors finally got their deserved opener on the hour, with United inviting James to cross from the right and Havertz diverting the ball on for Alonso to hammer home. But that advantage was almost instantly scrubbed out.
From nowhere Ronaldo hauled his side level, exquisitely controlling a super lobbed pass from Matic before lashing past Edouard Mendy.
The goal sparked the home fans and players into life - but still Chelsea kept on coming and James smacked the post from Mount's clever backheel.
United did finish on the front foot and, for the second time this season they've taken a point off a highly-fancied Chelsea side. But the bigger picture underlined the work they have to do to rebuild in the summer.
Roy Keane on Sky Sports:
It is the hardest part of the game - I know people are quick to criticise what he does not do in terms of his pressing, but he was never great at that anyway.
He is the greatest at the hardest part of the game, which is putting the ball in the back of the net. That was his only chance tonight really, you see the chances Chelsea were creating, so imagine if he had been in the Chelsea team, he would probably get 50 goals.
He is in a poor Man Utd team who are not creating many chances for him, but he is producing, it was his touch and movement tonight and as soon as he gets it, you just turn away as you know it is a goal, that is how good he is.
What he has done at United, considering the season he has had.. and I know there are other bits he could have done better - his leadership certainly could have been better when they've been up against it.
But in terms of goals, and that is why he came back for... He is not like he was a few years ago when he was beating people, he is really dependent on people getting the ball in the right areas, and United have not been great at that this year.
But he has still produced the goods and I just think that if you have a player in your group who can score that amount of goals, they have to be involved.
Now Ronaldo will want to play week win, week out, that will be the problem when the new manager comes in who will be looking for another striker. But Ronaldo will not be hanging around unless he is playing week in, week out.
He will not mind being rested for the odd League Cup game, or a European game when they've already got through...but I think he wants to play week in, week out and that will be the problem for the manager as he will look at him and think, sorry, but I have to rotate you in certain games.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel to Sky Sports: "It should have been more. There's only one team who deserves to win and that's us but we didn't take it. It's our responsibility to win a game like this when we dominate in all areas of the match. We were not clinical enough, lacked a bit of determination in the box to win this game.
"We worked so hard to get the lead and created so many chances and suddenly the opponent gets one free shot and scores.
"We found the space on the right and took advantage. I think Reece played a very good match, Mason a little unlucky in his decisions and could have been more precise in the first half to score and assist. But we were very good in our patterns."
Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick: "We were fortunate in the first half, needed some great saves from David and last ditch tackles. In the second half we we better, showed a good reaction to that goal with an amazing assist by Nemanja and great finish by Ronaldo. In the last 20 minutes it was an open game. They could have scored when James hit the post but we also had our moments.
"Overall we had to admit we were fortunate to get that point but the reaction in the second half was good.
"They played with their almost best starting XI and we had a few players missing. We have our problems in defending and getting hold of the ball, winning the ball. We are just not compact, aggressive enough in some of those moments and this shows up against the top teams like Chelsea, Liverpool or Man City."
Manchester United host Brentford on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; kick-off 8pm. Chelsea are away at Everton on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.
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