Chelsea striker Diego Costa scored in stoppage time against Manchester United to maintain his scoring streak under interim manager Guus Hiddink, ensuring a 1-1 stalemate in Sunday’s meeting of the two fallen Premier League powers.
Costa rounded goalkeeper David De Gea to net his sixth goal in seven league appearances under Hiddink and cancel out Jesse Lingard’s 61st-minute stunner.
“I think we played the majority of the game well,” Lingard said. “After conceding late on it felt like a defeat but we have to move onto the next game now.”
Although Hiddink’s unbeaten record since replacing Jose Mourinho in December was preserved, Chelsea has now drawn most of its league games — six of nine — to leave the defending champions mired in 13th place.
While Chelsea’s only way to qualify for the Champions League is by winning the continental competition, the draw is more damaging for United, which is six points from neighbor Manchester City in fourth.
This was once one of the standout fixtures of the seasons but United’s decline since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 coupled with Chelsea’s unexpected slump has made it a sideshow.
The improved performances recently by United, however, have lifted some of the gloom surrounding manager Louis van Gaal. United has not denied reports it is pursuing former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as a possible replacement.
United dictated large parts of the game, making an assertive start at Stamford Bridge, passing with precision and speed across the field.
United came close, though, to conceding a penalty on the stroke of half-time when Daley Blind’s arm blocked a shot by John Terry on the captain’s first home appearance since announcing he will not be getting a new Chelsea contract.
“They’re difficult ones for the referee, inside the box it’s going in, it’s got to be a penalty for me,” Terry said.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, having saved his team in the first half, denied both Wayne Rooney and Lingard after the break.
There was a blow for Chelsea approaching the hour when Kurt Zouma’s right leg buckled after leaping for a high ball. The central defender was carried off on a stretcher. Hiddink said Zouma’s injury, which he called a “hyperextension of the knee joint,” will be examined Monday.
Within minutes United was in front, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s cross teed up by Rooney for Lingard to volley on the turn into the net.
Chelsea’s response was Branislav Ivanovic’s volley that De Gea saved.
But the goalkeeper was beaten in stoppage time. Blind slipped as Cesc Fabregas threaded the ball through the United defense and Costa withstood Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s challenge before rounding De Gea to score.
The result left United without a win over Chelsea since 2012.
“We had it so close but in the end Chelsea are always trying to score and create chances and they scored a late goal and we didn’t have any time to try to come back,” said United midfielder Juan Mata, who joined from Chelsea.