Manchester United’s Daley Blind struck in stoppage time to rescue a 1-1 draw at a determined West Ham United on Sunday but Louis van Gaal’s team missed a chance to move up to third place in the Premier League.
With Southampton grabbing a late winner at Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur beating local rivals Arsenal on Saturday, United needed all three points to climb back into the top three.
But West Ham dominated the early stages at Upton Park and Cheikhou Kouyate’s neat second-half volley looked to have given the Londoners victory, only for Blind to fire home from the edge of the area after a poor clearance.
United stayed fourth on 44 points from 24 matches, one behind Southampton and one ahead of Spurs. West Ham remained eighth with 37 points.
Chelsea lead the way with 56 points after winning 2-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday, seven ahead of Manchester City who were held 1-1 at home by struggling Hull City.
“We played very badly in the first half and showed a lot of spirit in the second half,” United manager Louis van Gaal told Sky Sports.
“We gave away that goal and then played football but you have to do it from the first minute. But what spirit after the goal and I thanked my players for that.”
Earlier, West Bromwich Albion came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at fellow strugglers Burnley and claim what could prove to be a crucial point in the fight for survival.
In a mid-table battle at St James’ Park, Peter Crouch’s late equaliser earned Stoke City a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United and kept Mark Hughes’s side in the top 10.
West Ham made the better start against United at Upton Park and Enner Valencia forced two smart saves from David De Gea as the home side looked to expose the defensive frailties that have hindered United this season.
James Tomkins was the next West Ham player to test De Gea when the defender’s header from a free kick called the Spanish keeper into action.
But Kouyate fired the Hammers in front soon after the break when he neatly juggled the ball in the box before twisting his body and volleying past the stranded De Gea.
United struggled to create chances but striker Radamel Falcao squandered an opportunity when through on goal before Robin van Persie had a shot well saved by Adrian.
The Manchester side showed their old battling qualities as West Ham failed to clear Marcos Rojo’s ball forward and Blind struck to earn his team a point.
United were forced to play the final stages with 10 men when defender Luke Shaw received a second yellow card.
Burnley’s Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings provided the early spark at a wet and gloomy Turf Moor as they each scored headers to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
But Chris Brunt earned West Brom a lifeline towards the end of the first half when he nodded in from a corner and substitute Brown Ideye completed the comeback for Tony Pulis’s side when he powered in a header from Brunt’s corner.
West Brom are 15th with 23 points from 24 matches and Burnley are a point above the relegation zone in 17th with 21.
After a drab opening half at St James’ Park, Jack Colback fired Newcastle in front minutes after being fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for a foul on Victor Moses.
Gabriel Obertan wasted a chance to double Newcastle’s lead and former England striker Crouch punished them in the 90th minute when he headed in Geoff Cameron’s pinpoint cross.
Stoke remained 10th with 33 points and Newcastle are two points behind in 11th spot.