Despite a dominant display, with nearly 70 minutes on the clock it felt like it would be one of those days for Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues welcomed a toiling Manchester United to Stamford Bridge in the blockbuster fixture of the weekend, hoping to reinstate their lead at the top of the Premier League table after Man City had moved level on points earlier in the day with victory over West Ham.
While United came into the game way down in mid-table, form often goes out the window when these two giants of the English game go head to head. That said, Chelsea were firm favourites, and while many expected a win, a draw was the minimum requirement on the day.
Man Utd caretaker Michael Carrick clearly set his team up to hold out for a point, allowing the hosts to immdiately get onto the front foot and seize the initiative in front of a buzzing home crowd, warmed by the sights and sounds of Hyundai’s pre-match DJ experience outside the stadium.
Thomas Tuchel’s side utterly dominated the first half, twice coming incredibly close to breaking the deadlock.
First, Callum Hudson-Odoi found himself in on goal at the angle after a cute nutmeg on Victor Lindelof, and his low finish seemed destined for the back of the net but for David de Gea’s trailing leg, which diverted the ball wide.
Later in the first period, Hudson-Odoi was involved again as he laid the ball off to Antonio Rudiger, who responded to the customary cries for a shot from the fans by crashing a pile driver off the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Chelsea were forced to settle for parity at the break having controlled the game, and it looked for all the world that they would go on to eventually seal the three points.
However, five minutes after half-time, disaster struck; Jorginho was unfortunate to be caught under a long ball, and Jadon Sancho pounced on his miss-control to bear down on goal and slot the ball past a stranded Edouard Mendy.
To that point it had been a good team performance from Chelsea, without any really outstanding individual displays. With no standout performer on the pitch, they needed something extra – and that came from the stands.
Willed on by an electric Stamford Bridge crowd, Chelsea reasserted their dominance after a shaky start to the second period, keeping Man Utd penned back in their own half and producing wave after wave of attack, coming closest when Timo Werner blasted narrowly wide.
One of those attacks would eventually yield the equaliser; from a corner, Aaron Wan-Bissaka made clear contact with Thiago Silva as he attempted to clear the ball, and Jorginho stepped up to redeem himself from the penalty spot with a hop, skip and a jump.
With 20 minutes to go and a packed out stadium behind them, Chelsea fancied their chances of adding a second to win the match. The hosts had to wait until the 79th minute for another clear-cut chance, with Werner denied by a last-ditch block before a few attackers got their wires crossed and Reece James fired well wide.
Then, deep into injury time, substitute Christian Pulisic picked out Rudiger with a pinpoint cross, but the German defender could not get his head over the shot and blazed his volley over.
While Chelsea will be disappointed not to have won the game having had 24 shots to Man Utd’s four and 66% of possession, this was still a vital draw coming from behind against a much-improved opposition in the second half.
Without it, Man City would now be level on points with the Blues at the summit of the Premier League. As it is, Chelsea still have a slim advantage. In the absence of a match-winner on the pitch, they have their 12th man to thank for that.