SHEFFIELD, England (AP) — Sheffield United had to settle for drawing with Brighton 1-1 on its return to English Premier League action, missing the chance to climb into the Champions League qualification positions on Saturday.
The Blades spent their winter break in Dubai, while their top-five rivals failed to make any notable headway in their absence.
United was on its way to matching fourth-placed Chelsea’s win against Tottenham earlier in the day when Enda Stevens blasted the hosts in front in the 26th minute.
However, Neal Maupay equalized four minutes later to earn a point that pushed Brighton further clear of the relegation zone, though Graham Potter’s side is without a league win in seven matches.
United was dominant in the second half, with Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan making a point-blank save to deny Oliver McBurnie near the end.
The draw kept the Blades in sixth place, although they were tied on points with fifth-placed Tottenham. Both are four points adrift of Chelsea.
However, fifth place is enough to qualify for the Champions League because second-placed Manchester City was punished last week with a two-year ban from European competitions for breaching financial regulations. City has said it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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