Manchester United didn’t control their top-four destiny going into Sunday’s match against Huddersfield Town—a club that had been guaranteed relegation for quite some time now. Three points from a win was the minimum required to keep any hopes of Champions League qualification alive, but they also needed help from Watford to get Chelsea to drop some points.
Around the 60-minute mark, things started to go south fast. Not only was it clear that Watford was not going to do United any favors after conceding two goals in quick succession to Chelsea, but it was also clear that United’s defense were not up to the task of the day either. Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lössl collected a cross and chucked the ball downfield to a streaking Isaac Mbenza. United defender Luke Shaw was doing his best to mark Mbenza, and tried to stop the ball from getting to his man. His attempt was futile at best, and he whiffed on the deflection which gave Mbenza a one-on-one scoring opportunity against the underperforming David De Gea. The ensuing goal tied the game up at one.
Mbenza celebrated with a strong whack of the corner flag in front of his club’s supporters. While it hyped up the home crowd, the celebration came at the cost of a five minute delay as stadium staff did their best to try and find a replacement flag. Luckily for Huddersfield, the hype from the goal stuck around and the supporters only got more excited once the flag was actually replaced.
(It really is ironic that this sport will card players for taking off their shirts in celebration, but actually causing a delay because people had to replace something a player broke doesn’t seem to even lead to a warning).
The momentum also continued for Huddersfield, who were able to hold off any and all scoring efforts from Manchester United and maintain the scoreline at one goal a piece. The one-point result mathematically eliminated Manchester United from earning a spot in the top-four for the fourth time in six reasons as Chelsea would wind up with a 3-0 win against Watford.
Really the only downside of this result is the fact that Huddersfield will have to wait at least two seasons before getting a chance to play spoiler for United like this again.