Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial reacts on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on July 13, 2020
Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial reacts on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on July 13, 2020
AFP

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side did not deserve the three points after a stoppage-time equaliser from Michael Obafemi gave Southampton a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Monday. United had been 2-1 up after goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in response to Stuart Armstrong’s early opener for the visitors. Instead of moving into third place, United stay fifth and face a real fight to qualify for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

The problem for United is Manchester City's success in overturning its Champions League ban on Monday has huge ramifications on the Premier League and the remaining two teams that will qualify for Europe's top club competition.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester - and maybe Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United, too - are now fighting for two qualifying spots instead of three with two weeks of the season remaining.

While United was the favourite to win on Monday, the team missed out on a victory after going down to 10-men due to a nasty clash of heads between Brandon Williams and Kyle Walker-Peters.

The fight for a top-five finish has reverted back to needing to be in the top four to join champion Liverpool and City, already secured in second place, in earning tens of millions of dollars in UEFA prize money next season.

Before the Southampton game, United was in form with four straight wins. It also has a relatively benign schedule matches against Crystal Palace and West Ham before what could be a winner-takes-all game at Leicester on the final weekend of the season.

Making it all the more intriguing is the fact that another final-day match is between Chelsea and Wolves.

A victory over already-relegated Norwich on Tuesday appears pivotal for Chelsea, considering its last two games are at Liverpool - a team chasing records to cap its title-winning season - and then Wolves, who have gained a reputation for beating the top teams over the last two years.

Wolves are in sixth place, four points off the top four, so the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has come as a blow to their Champions League ambitions.

Indeed, Wolves' best chance of qualifying for the competition is now to win the Europa League, which earns entry to the Champions League. The team coached by Nuno Espirito Santo has reached the last 16 of the Europa League and will play the second leg of its match against Olympiakos next month, with the score at 1-1 after the first leg.

Likewise, seventh-place Sheffield United needed City to lose its appeal at sport's highest court to stand a realistic chance of a finish in the Champions League positions, a prospect that would have seemed fanciful for a team that was widely tipped for relegation at the start of the season.

Europa League qualification will be Sheffield United's target now, with seventh place possibly earning that reward if Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea win the FA Cup.

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