Diego Costa's stoppage-time goal rescues point for Chelsea
Late strike denies Manchester United all three points at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1
A stoppage-time goal from Diego Costa rescued a point for Chelsea and ensured they remain unbeaten under interim manager Guus Hiddink. The Blues haven't lost in the Premier League since a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City on 14 December, a result that proved the catalyst for the departure of Jose Mourinho a few days later.
Hiddink stepped into the breach and since then, Chelsea have staged a recovery of sorts. But while they haven't been beaten under the Dutchman, the fact remains this was their fourth draw on the bounce at Stamford Bridge, a sequence last matched under John Hollins, from November 1987 to January 1988.
Nonetheless, the home side had looked on course for their first league defeat at the Bridge since a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth on 5 December, after Jesse Lingard's sharp half-volley gave United the lead on 61 minutes.
It was hard for the hosts to take after their first-half appeal for a penalty had been brushed aside by referee Michael Oliver, the official uninterested in John Terry's claim his shot had been blocked by Daley Blind's arm.
The departure of defender Kurt Zouma on 59 minutes caused a readjustment to the Blues back four and that was doubtless a contributory factor to Lingard's goal a couple of minutes later.
But Chelsea laid siege to the visitors' goal in the closing stages and gradually wore down the United defence, with Costa scoring the equaliser in the second of six additional minutes. It was a deft finish from the Spanish striker, who ran onto a poked pass from Cesc Fabregas, rounded David de Gea and clipped the ball in from a tight angle.
The United goalkeeper had a revenge of sorts in the final minute, saving low down from Costa's powerful strike to ensure United returned home with a point. With Manchester City losing at home to Leicester on Saturday, United are six points behind their neighbours but have lost ground to Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who both won.
Leaders Leicester City remain out in front on 53 points, five more than the north London pair and 12 clear of United.
"Deep frustration," was how Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal described his emotions in the aftermath of the encounter. "We were the better team... we had the better chances but we didn't win. We played a superb game until the last quarter. Then we did not keep the ball in the way I think we have to. Then, we were unlucky and we get a goal against us. It is unbelievable. We don’t reward ourselves."
Chelsea captain Terry praised his side's "great response", adding: "We've shown that character since the manager came in and that's good to see." Not surprisingly the Chelsea centre-back believed the referee should have penalised Blind for handball in the first half.
"It was going in, I think," he said. "For me, it's got to be a penalty."
The result leaves Chelsea in 13th position, 11 points behind fourth-place United and still with a mountain to climb if they wish to qualify for next season's Champions League. That was the pressing issue for Terry, when asked whether he saw a future for himself at Stamford Bridge beyond May, when his current contract expires.
"The club is the most important thing but there’s no communication [about a new deal] at the moment," he told Sky Sports. "I've made it very clear I want to stay, but more important is getting up to where we should be in the table."