Manchester United’s hopes of Champions League football next season were ended after an embarrassing 1-1 draw at already relegated Huddersfield on Sunday.
The ‘Red Devils’ have now won just two of their past 11 games in all competitions as Huddersfield ended a run of eight straight defeats despite goalkeeper Jonas Lossl’s error handing the visitors an early lead through Scott McTominay.
Terrible defending from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men gave the Terriers something to celebrate in their final home game before heading down to the Championship as Isaac Mbenza levelled on the hour mark.
Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Watford means United fall four points outside the top four with just one game of the season to go.
And failure to beat statistically one of the worst teams ever to play in the Premier League will see further questions raised over the decision to hand Solskjaer a three-year contract in March.
The Norwegian has bemoaned United’s lack of goals of late and recalled Alexis Sanchez to his starting line-up for the first time in two months in the search for more firepower.
But the Chilean again failed to live up to his status as the club’s highest earner before limping off just before the hour mark.
– Manchester United fail to qualify for Champions League –
Instead, the visitors had to rely on Huddersfield for a helping hand as McTominay’s strike from the edge of the box went straight through Lossl’s legs after just eight minutes.
United quickly got the game restarted as they sought more goals to improve their inferior goal difference compared to their rivals for a top-four finish.
However, even against a Huddersfield side that previously registered just 14 points all season, United could not press home their advantage.
Juan Mata curled inches wide after some neat interplay between Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba before Pogba also saw a looping header come back off the crossbar.
Solskjaer had kept faith with David de Gea in goal despite three high-profile errors leading to goals in his previous four games.
Huddersfield did not even test De Gea’s nerve until five minutes before the break when Karlan Grant broke clear after an errant clearance from Phil Jones.
However, De Gea spread himself well to block a weak finish with his legs.
Huddersfield had only scored nine goals at home all season, but one hopeful punt from Lossl cut United open for the equaliser on the hour mark.
Luke Shaw failed to cut out the Danish goalkeeper’s clearance and allowed Mbenza a clear run on goal to slot between De Gea’s legs.
A lengthy delay then ensued as a new corner flag was found to replace the one Mbenza kicked over and snapped in celebration.
And the wait at least gave United time to awake from their slumber.
Rashford and teenager Tahith Chong, who replaced Sanchez, forced Lossl into saves low to his left.
Pogba then hit the crossbar for the second time in the game with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
But in their desperation for a winner, United could have succumbed to another stunning defeat as De Gea was called on to deny Grant a memorable winner.