Huddersfield Town 1 Manchester United 1
Manchester United surrendered a flying start by Scott McTominay to draw 1-1 at relegated Huddersfield Town and bow out of the race for a berth in next season's Champions League.
United went into the game realistically needing a victory and when Chelsea cruised into a comfortable 3-0 lead at home to Watford, an away win for the Reds was confirmed as a mathematical necessity, even with one match still to play on the last day at Old Trafford against Cardiff City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men got off to a cracking opening when McTominay scored after eight minutes. But United’s impetus began to wane and Huddersfield, who will play in the Championship next term, fought back to equalise in the 60th minute through Isaac Mbenza.
It was a surreal last home match of the campaign for Huddersfield with their stadium rocking as the home support said goodbye, for the time being, to top-flight football in their part of West Yorkshire.
But as the Terriers had known their fate since late March, the earliest any side has ever been condemned to the drop in the Premier League, they’d come to party.
For United, with the fight for the two vacant Champions League positions still alive, and the tension showing from all the contenders, it was serious business.
The Reds, though, looked carefree with a confident start that brought an early reward.
McTominay had been brought back into the side and, after just eight minutes, he added to his first and only senior goal at Wolves last month in the league. Slick United passing almost broke down but the Scotland midfielder got the benefit of a loose ball and kept his cool, side-stepped Terence Kongolo before striking low and clean with his left foot to put the Reds 1-0 ahead.
United were in command and the only response from the Terriers was Juninho Bacuna firing wide before Juan Mata almost curled in a second goal for United after 25 minutes, having been set up by a cute flick from Marcus Rashford.
With United unable to go further in front, Huddersfield were encouraged and began to start causing the Reds some problems.
The hosts almost levelled the match up in the 40th minute when Mbenza managed to squeeze in between Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones and get a shot away. David De Gea, who has been under scrutiny of late, produced one of his trademark stops with his feet to preserve his team's advantage for half-time.
The Reds' answer came almost immediately with Pogba hitting the crossbar with a guided header from Mata’s left-wing cross.
Solskjaer made two changes in the 53rd minute when he replaced Nemanja Matic with Ander Herrera and Alexis hobbled off after damaging his ankle chasing back. Tahith Chong came on to replace the Chilean striker.
With news coming in from Stamford Bridge that top-four rivals Chelsea had scored two early second-half goals against Watford, it became imperative that the Reds secured all three points at the John Smith's Stadium. Instead, two points slipped from United's grasp as Huddersfield equalised.
Disappointingly for the Reds, the equaliser came from a position where the home side were under pressure, defending a corner. Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lössl collected the set piece and fired a low clearance upfield that caught United napping
Luke Shaw was unable to cut out what became an unlikely assist as Mbenza found himself through on goal. He slotted the leveller underneath De Gea as the Spaniard came storming out in an attempt to block his effort.
Jones almost put United back in front when he nipped in ahead of the Huddersfield rearguard to connect with Ashley Young’s 71st-minute free kick but the Reds defender couldn’t keep his effort down.
The Reds had stepped up the response to the Terriers' leveller but couldn’t find the cutting edge and Rashford spurned a great opportunity when Mata slid a cross to him but the Mancunian lifted his shot high and wide.
Rashford also had a long-distance crack that keeper Lossl had to paw away as the Reds still couldn't find the killer goal.
As the minutes ticked away, United got even closer to finding the winner as substitute Chong almost had a personal glory moment after being put through by Rashford but his effort was guided away by the glove of Lossl.
Then Pogba had a brilliant shot shudder against the crossbar. But when the Frenchman slipped as he attempted another long-range blockbuster, it seemed to confirm our fears that it was just one of those days.
And so it proved, with no piece of late magic forthcoming for the Reds and the news filtering through that Chelsea had won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
United: De Gea, Young (C), Jones, Lindelof (Dalot 82), Shaw, Matic (Herrera 53) Pogba, McTominay, Mata, Alexis (Chong 53), Rashford.
Subs not used: L. Grant, Smalling, Andreas, Fred.
Scorer: McTominay (8).
Huddersfield: Lossl, Kongolo, Hogg, Bacuna, Mooy, Lowe, K. Grant, Mbenza (Diakhaby 89), Pritchard, Schindler, Durm (Smith 45).
Subs not used: Coleman, Kachunga, Mounie, Stankovic, Daly.
Scorer: Mbenza (60).