Chelsea had to settle for a point against Manchester United in a match we had chances to win, but were required to fight back from a goal down in the second half.
It was as dominant a first-half performance as you could want from the Blues, with United heavily indebted to goalkeeper David De Gea for keeping them in contention until half-time, as the Spaniard produced a string of saves to deny Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James, but saved the best to get the faintest of touches to send a rasping Antonio Rudiger shot onto the crossbar.
After the break, completely against the run of play, a rare heavy touch from Jorginho was punished harshly when Jadon Sancho raced clear to give the visitors the lead, briefly swinging momentum in their favour, but we were back in control well before Aaron Wan-Bissaka fouled Thiago Silva in the box and allowed Jorginho to make amends by calmly equalising from the penalty spot.
There were chances for Timo Werner and Rudiger to take all three points, which would have been a result Man Utd could have little complaint about, as they received a flurry of late bookings for wasting time, but a Chelsea victory was not to be from this one-sided encounter.
Tuchel lost two more players to injury in the mid-week win over Juventus, with N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell unavailable after being forced off in that game. Mateo Kovacic was still out of contention too.
It was in the midfield four that the two enforced changes came, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Kante to make his third Premier League start of the season. He was beside Jorginho, who captained the side, while Reece James continued on the right and Marcos Alonso took Chilwell’s place on the left.
The unforced change by Tuchel came in the front three, where Timo Werner returned to the starting line-up for the first time since the home win over Malmo in early October, following his own injury. He was flanked by Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Before kick-off, Chelsea and the Premier League showed our support for the rainbow laces campaign on the pitch, with the corner flags and captains’ armbands promoting the equality campaign, and the centre-circle banner dedicated to Pride of Chelsea.
On the front foot from the start
It didn’t take us long to fashion the game’s first chance. It started with excellent work by Hudson-Odoi on the left, standing up his man and driving inside across the edge of the box and feeding it in to Ziyech. The Moroccan spun and tried to catch David De Gea out with an early right-footed shot, but it lacked the power to beat the goalkeeper.
We then went close again within a minute, as Marcos Alonso flicked on a high ball for Hudson-Odoi to chase. He got the better of Victor Lindelof, but again De Gea was able to save the low shot. It was a hugely promising start for the Blues, though, as we were causing United’s defence all kind of problems in the opening exchanges.
The chances dried up a little after that early flourish, but we were still in control, and Rudiger looped a header just wide from a James free-kick befpre Ziyech curled a first-time shot over from the edge of the area.
Things started to pick up a little midway through the first half, with Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek beginning to find more space to advance on the ball in a crowded midfield. However, things wouldn't quite fall for us in the box, as Lindelof recovered in time to head clear when James looked poised to meet Alonso’s cross at the back post, and then a Ziyech header across goal bounced out for a goal kick.
United under pressure
We came the closest yet to opening the scoring when Hudson-Odoi found space on the left again. This time he fed the ball to Rudiger on the edge of the box and the German defender fired a viciously dipping drive towards goal which rattled the crossbar.
Werner then had a dangerous looking effort blocked after a brilliant Thiago Silva slide-tackle had won the ball back and launched a counter-attack simultaneously, as we increased the pressure on the visitors the more the first-half wore on.
That almost told when a loose Fernandes pass across the face of his own box gifted possession to Hudson-Odoi, but the winger couldn’t get a clean shot away and De Gea was able to save comfortably. James then flashed a shot wide of the near post after Chalobah and Ziyech had combined to win the ball back high up on the right side.
Right on half-time, a curling James free-kick from the left almost crept in at the far post, with De Gea at full stretch to save yet again. United’s only attempt during the opening 45 minutes was a Bruno Fernandes effort from range, which dribbled well wide without worrying Mendy, but at the end of a very one-sided half, the scoreline remained goalless.
We started the second half on the front foot again, with Werner having a shot charged down and Rashford booked for a late challenge on Hudson-Odoi.
However, completely against the run of play, Manchester United took the lead with their first shot on target. The Chelsea free-kick was hoofed clear by Fernandes, but when last man Jorginho took a rare loose touch just inside our half, it was punished ruthlessly. Sancho raced clear on the ball, with Rashford to his left, leaving Mendy two-on-one against the forwards, and Sancho had plenty of time to pick his spot and slot into the bottom corner.
The Blues couldn’t believe we were behind, but suddenly it was a very different game, with United gaining belief. We tried to hit back quickly, but when a Ziyech corner found its way to Werner at the back post, he couldn’t get his body in the right position to keep his half-volley on target.
We eventually eased our way back into control, despite United’s introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo from the bench, as the away side were fortunate to escape from a couple of dangerous James crosses unscathed.
Level from the spot
However, with a little over 20 minutes remaining, Jorginho was given the chance to atone for his earlier error, when Wan-Bissaka wildly swung his boot into the back of Thiago Silva’s leg in a desperate attempt to clear following a corner, and the ref pointed to the spot. As usual, any pressure Jorginho may have been feeling didn’t show, as he calmly rolled his penalty to De Gea’s right and into the net.
We tried to use our momentum to find a quick second, with Loftus-Cheek having an effort blocked and Ziyech firing over, both from the edge of the box.
It nearly had the desired result, as we continued to play the game in United’s half, but the closest we came to the three points was actually between two of those switches, when Werner cleverly let the ball roll across his body in the box, but Bailly was able to get a block on his shot and the ricochet came too quickly for Pulisic to get it under control. The last opening came with virtually the final kick of the game, as Rudiger met Pulisic's cross at the back post, but he couldn't control his volley and fired over.
As it was, Tuchel and his side had to make do with a draw which will provide Tuchel with mixed feelings, seeing as we controlled the match enough to take all three points, but could also have ended with nothing after going behind in the second half.
We have two Premier League away trips in the next week, starting at Watford at 7.30pm on Wednesday evening. Then we head to east London next Saturday to face West Ham United in the day's early kick-off at 12.30pm.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho (c), Alonso (Pulisic 78); Ziyech, Werner (Lukaku 82), Hudson-Odoi (Mount 78)
Unused subs: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Saul, Barkley, Havertz, Lukaku
Scorer: Jorginho pen 69
Booked: James 53, Tuchel 90+4
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Telles; McTominay, Matic, Fred; Sancho (Ronaldo 64), Fernandes (c) (Van de Beek 88), Rashford (Lingard 77)
Unused subs: Henderson, Dalot, Jones, Mata, Greenwood, Martial
Scorer: Sancho 50
Booked: McTominay 45, Rashford 49, Fernandes 76, Ronaldo 90+2, Bailly 90+6
Referee: Anthony Taylor