Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.
Sheffield United are in a "good place" after reaching 40 points with 11 games to go but want to achieve much more this season, says boss Chris Wilder.
The Blades, who have been exceptional in their first season since winning promotion from the Championship, suffered a rare day of frustration as they were held at home by lowly Brighton in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.
Yet the point was still enough to take them to the magic number that is supposedly needed to guarantee Premier League survival.
With 33 point still to play for, Wilder wants his side - currently sixth in the table - to kick on in the hunt to qualify for a place in Europe.
"We're going to be a Premier League team next season. It's an enormous achievement," said Wilder.
"But we want more. We've had bad days, but we've taken the game to the opposition wherever we've been.
"This club is in good shape, we're in a good place, and the supporters should really know that and appreciate what's going off in front of their eyes."
Enda Stevens' rasping finish put the Blades in control against Brighton but the lead was short-lived as Neal Maupay marked his return to the starting line-up with a headed equaliser.
Lewis Dunk missed a glorious chance to put the visitors ahead after the Blades lost Stevens to injury.
John Fleck, who signed a new Sheffield United contract until 2023 before kick-off, went close from distance but Brighton worked hard to secure a third successive draw.
Forty points but will the Blades make Europe?
For Sheffield United, a League One side three years ago, to reach 40 points with more than a quarter of the season remaining is nothing short of remarkable.
The Blades have every chance of securing a top-four or top-five finish, which would rank as one of the greatest achievement of the Premier League era - yet they were unable to finish off a Brighton side battling to stay away from the bottom three.
Their first game back from the winter break appeared to be going to plan when Stevens, who was playing in League Two with Portsmouth three years ago, produced a sublime finish after Brighton could only half clear Oliver Norwood's cross.
Yet Brighton were level 193 seconds later as United, who lost Stevens to injury, struggled to reach the heights that have seen them dismantle so many teams this season.
Oli McBurnie and Fleck had chances to win it and send the Blades above Tottenham into the fifth spot, which could be enough to earn a place in next season's Champions League now that Manchester City have been banned from Uefa competitions for the next two seasons, pending an appeal.
But for now Chris Wilder's side stay sixth - level on points with Spurs.
Winless run a worry but Brighton show fight
Brighton remain without a Premier League win in 2020 - a worrying statistic as they try and keep some distance between themselves and the bottom three.
Yet for the third successive game they demonstrated they have the character for a scrap as they came from behind to take a point.
A return to goalscoring form for French forward Maupay could be critical, especially in view of Brighton's tough run.
Although they are four points above the relegation zone, six of their remaining 11 games are against Wolves (away), Arsenal (home), Leicester (away), Manchester United (home), Liverpool (home) and Manchester City (home).
Maupay, who started the previous two games on the substitutes bench, was at his sharpest to score after Aaron Mooy's long ball forward had been flicked on - the former Brentford player's eighth league goal of the season and his first in nine top-flight appearances.
While Brighton have forgotten how to win, their last league success was on 28 December 2019, their tenacity to come back from falling behind has not been lost on boss Graham Potter.
"We came back from two goals down in our last away match [against West Ham], and came from behind again.
"The resilience of the group is fine but we have to show more quality with the ball."
Man of the match - Neal Maupay (Brighton)
Seagulls make a point - the stats
- Brighton have gained nine points from losing positions in the league this season, their most in a single Premier League campaign, overtaking the eight they recovered in games in which they fell behind last season.
- Sheffield United have earned 40 points from their 27 Premier League games this season - the fastest they have reached the target (assuming three points for a win) in a top-flight season since the 1971-72 campaign (22 games).
- Brighton have drawn three consecutive league games within the same season for the first time since November 2015 in the Championship.
- Enda Stevens scored his first Premier League goal at home for Sheffield United and his first overall at Bramall Lane since April 2019.
- Neal Maupay ended a run of 660 minutes of play and 21 shots without scoring for the Seagulls in the Premier League.
Sheffield United are not in action next weekend as scheduled opponents Aston Villa are in the Carabao Cup final - the Blades next play on 3 March when they visit Championship side Reading in the FA Cup fifth round (20:00 GMT). Brighton host Crystal Palace in the Premier League next Saturday (12:30 GMT).
- 32BergeSubstituted forLundstramat 81'minutes
- 3StevensSubstituted forOsbornat 45'minutes
- 10SharpSubstituted forMcGoldrickat 74'minutes
- 21SchelottoSubstituted forTrossardat 75'minutes
- 24PröpperBooked at 23mins
- 8BissoumaBooked at 10mins
- 7MaupaySubstituted forBernardoat 90+3'minutes
- 17MurraySubstituted forConnollyat 75'minutes
- Graham Scott
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Sheffield United 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Bernardo replaces Neal Maupay.
Attempt blocked. Jack O'Connell (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Adam Webster.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Davy Pröpper.
Hand ball by Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Offside, Sheffield United. John Fleck tries a through ball, but George Baldock is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. John Fleck (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by George Baldock.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by David McGoldrick with a cross.
Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Mat Ryan tries a through ball, but Neal Maupay is caught offside.
VAR Decision: No card change John Lundstram (Sheffield United).
Attempt missed. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jack O'Connell with a cross.
Substitution, Sheffield United. John Lundstram replaces Sander Berge.
Offside, Sheffield United. Oliver Norwood tries a through ball, but David McGoldrick is caught offside.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Leandro Trossard replaces Ezequiel Schelotto.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Aaron Connolly replaces Glenn Murray.
Substitution, Sheffield United. David McGoldrick replaces Billy Sharp.
Attempt blocked. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Basham with a headed pass.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Adam Webster.