Diego Costa’s injury time strike steals point for Chelsea

Man United fail to hold on after Jesse Lingard stunner gives them lead at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1

This should have been the afternoon Manchester United breathed new life into their pursuit of the top four. Becoming the fifth side to triumph at Stamford Bridge this season would have edged them within four points of their rivals from across their home city and offered Louis van Gaal some respite amid so much discord and doubt. Yet, as the Dutchman berated the fourth official in the mouth of the tunnel after the final whistle, it all felt thoroughly deflating.

Diego Costa’s stoppage-time equaliser, a mess of a goal for the visitors to ship just as they were contemplating victory, has left United’s game of catch-up appearing rather forlorn yet again. There is too much sloppiness, too much wastefulness, in this team to sustain a proper challenge and Chelsea, far from impressive for long periods, had been opponents there for the taking. As it was, Costa went on to force David de Gea into a fine save with 17 seconds of those six minutes of added time. Perhaps that was appropriate given both these sides will probably complete their campaign wondering what might have been.

If the frustration at the end was United's, it was Chelsea who had actually departed at the interval enraged not to have been awarded a penalty in the seconds before the break. Their opportunity had been born of a Terry block on the edge of his own penalty area, the captain joining Oscar, Willian et al on a galloping counterattack that culminated in his hooked attempt from the Brazilian's centre. Daley Blind flung himself at the shot, the ball striking his left elbow, only for Michael Oliver to wave away the appeals. The hosts could point to Costa's shot just wide of the far post, or a couple of half-chances when Oscar gained a sight at goal, as evidence of superiority for long periods, though this had lacked the quality, urgency or, indeed, relevance of meetings between the teams over recent years.

A United side of proper pedigree would have capitalised on the flurry of corners and crossing opportunities that had marked out their initial dominance. As it was, the closest they had come to a first-half lead was Anthony Martial's curled attempt which Thibaut Courtois did well to turn behind at full stretch. The Belgium goalkeeper was more active after the interval, stretching to save impressively from Wayne Rooney and Lingard, with Chelsea further hindered by what appeared a serious knee injury to Kurt Zouma.

The young Frenchman had leapt to hack a loose ball upfield only for his right leg to buckle awkwardly as he landed. He was carried off on a stretcher, distraught and in pain. The scans on the ligaments over the coming days will determine the extent of the damage, though it felt natural to fear the worst.

Those he left behind were still reorganising when they were breached, United building neatly courtesy of Michael Carrick, Martial and Juan Mata before Borthwick-Jackson's fizzed centre was touched on by Rooney. The ball fell to Lingard, 12 yards out and with his back to goal; he took a touch, spun and dispatched a fine rising shot into the top corner before César Azpilicueta could summon a block.

The hosts had flung on Eden Hazard by then in an attempt to breathe energy into their own performance, though it was Branislav Ivanovic's crunched volley that threatened to pull them level. De Gea palmed that away and was soon blocking Cesc Fàbregas's shot belted in at his near-post as Chelsea's desperation grew. When Costa headed over late on their time felt up only for United to implode at the death.

Fàbregas's clipped pass should have been cut out but Blind slipped as he emerged from United's penalty area. In trundled Costa, though it was actually Borthwick-Jackson's sliding attempt to tackle that took the ball away from De Gea. The Spain striker simply collected and converted into the empty net and Chelsea's unbeaten run had been stretched to 11 games. Even so, Guus Hiddink has still to oversee a home win in the Premier League in this second stint as manager. These sequences are deceptive.