Manchester United need a point from their final game to clinch a Champions League place after coming from behind to draw against West Ham, who confirmed their Premier League survival.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side moved third, a point ahead of Leicester, who they face at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
But victory for Brendan Rodgers’ team will deny the Red Devils a spot in Europe’s elite club competition next season – unless fourth-placed Chelsea lose both their remaining games.
Meanwhile, the point for David Moyes’ side guarantees Premier League football next season as they now lie four points clear of the relegation zone.
Michail Antonio put the Hammers ahead in first-half stoppage time with his eighth goal in six games after Paul Pogba gave away a penalty when he raised his hands to block a Declan Rice free-kick.
Eighteen-year-old Mason Greenwood levelled with his 17th goal of a stellar first season as a senior player.
Both sides had chances to win it, with under-pressure David de Gea producing a fingertip save to repel a deflected Jarrod Bowen effort and substitute Odion Ighalo turned a near-post effort wide at the other end.
United already knew their efforts to secure a top-four berth would go down to the last day at Leicester. However, the point means that, after being in fifth since February, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have moved back into the top four for the first time since 14 September.
Greenwood the United star
Although Solskjaer said during United’s pre-season tour of Australia he rated Greenwood as the best finisher at the club, it was not until December that he gave the Yorkshireman his first Premier League start of the season.
Twenty-two games on, it is hard to imagine the line-up for an important game being picked without him.
His latest clinical effort was his 10th in the league this term. Michael Owen’s astonishing effort in 1997-98, when he scored 18, is the only time a teenager has done better since the Premier League was formed in 1992.
The intricate close passing with Martial which created the shooting opportunity underlined that Greenwood is much more than a goalscorer. It felt like he was taking responsibility when other, more experienced, team-mates had not.
Owen went to a World Cup after his stellar season. Greenwood has more time and, although he will still be a teenage when the European Championships begin next summer, on this evidence it would be no surprise to see him included in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
The goal was vital for United, who have failed to win successive home games for the first time in nearly six months, but have the advantage at just the right time as Solskjaer looks to return the club back to something like their former selves.
After going on a 19-match unbeaten run United have flagged in the last week, being beaten by Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final before this draw with the Hammers.
The Norwegian knows the importance of qualifying for the Champions League.
After 22 years of never finishing below third under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have managed only two top-four finishes in the years since his retirement. Champions League qualification will increase United’s chances of signing England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for a start.
And, in a year when their finances have been badly affected like all their rivals due to the coronavirus pandemic, it would mean they avoid giving Adidas a £22.5m rebate on their 10-year shirt deal.
Moyes on a mission
At half-time, Moyes marched towards the dressing rooms with a look of determination on his face. He must also have been feeling of immense satisfaction.
Moyes was sacked as United boss in April 2014, less than a season into a six-year contract as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.
In the build-up to the game, Moyes said the only difference between him and Solskjaer was that the Norwegian was given time.
The statistics suggest Moyes has a point. Solskjaer’s results in his first 51 games as United boss are broadly similar to the Scot, who won two games more, but lost an extra one as well.
The obvious difference is that Moyes was not a legendary figure at Old Trafford and never scored an injury-time goal to win a Champions League final. It means no-one will ever know if he could have turned around a dismal first season.
However, thanks to Antonio, who has scored more goals in the past 22 days than he has managed in either of the two previous seasons, we do know Moyes has twice dragged West Ham clear of a perilous situation in a relegation fight.
Unlike two years ago, when they ditched the Scot in favour of Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham seem certain to stick with Moyes, who has already told the club he wants them to start promising less and delivering more.
Man of the match – Mason Greenwood (Man Utd)
United end the season with a crunch game at Leicester while West Ham host Aston Villa. All of the final games kick off at 16:00 BST on Sunday.
Greenwood keeps on growing – the stats
- Manchester United have won 10 of their 19 home league games this season (D7 L2); only in 2016-17 (eight) and 2013-14 (nine) have they earned fewer home victories in a Premier League campaign.
- West Ham have collected eight points in their last five Premier League games against United (W2 D2 L1), more than they managed in their previous 18 league encounters (seven points – W1 D4 L13) between May 2008 and August 2017.
- Solskjaer’s side are unbeaten in 13 Premier League games (W8 D5), which is now the Norwegian’s best run in the competition with the Red Devils and his best league run in his managerial career with a single club.
- West Ham have dropped 26 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other team in the competition in 2019-20.
- Man Utd’s Greenwood has become the first player to score 10 Premier League goals in a season as a teenager since Romelu Lukaku in 2012-13 (14), and the first English player to do so since Wayne Rooney in 2004-05 (11).
- No teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season in all competitions for United than Greenwood (17 – level with George Best in 1965-66, Brian Kidd in 1967-68 and Rooney in 2004-05).
- West Ham’s Antonio has scored eight goals in the Premier League since the restart, the joint-most of any player alongside Raheem Sterling. He now has 10 Premier League goals this season – his best tally in a single campaign in the competition.
- Mark Noble has created 14 goalscoring chances in West Ham’s last two away league outings (8 v Norwich, 6 v Man Utd), one more than his previous 18 away league appearances combined beforehand.