Chelsea 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
Chelsea needed to win and hope United dropped points and when substitute Andriy Shevchenko netted on 62 minutes, the dream was on with the Old Trafford club winning just 1-0.
But Chelsea failed once again to kill off a game and fell to the sucker punch which left them in second place in the league with 85 points with United clear with 87 points.
But the game opened brightly for the home side and on eight minutes Didier Drogba missed a sitter at the near post, shooting wide from three yards out following an excellent pass by Michael Ballack.
On 10 minutes, John Terry's match was over as he damaged his left elbow in a clash between Kevin Davies and Petr Cech.
He was taken to hospital for an X-ray before returning to the ground and declaring himself fit for the Champions League Final on May 21
Juliano Belletti replaced the skipper, who went to right-back with Michael Essien moving into the centre-back position.
Drogba almost made amends with a 25-yard free-kick, but it inched wide of Bolton keeper Ali Al-Habsi's right-hand post.
Drogba was denied again when he was dispossessed of the ball by a last-ditch tackle by Gretar Steinsson on 26 minutes.
Taylor's long-range effort on 29 minutes, which went wide of Cech's post, was Bolton's first effort on goal.
Joe Cole had a shot on target on 36 minutes, but it was held comfortably by Al-Habsi
The heat was getting to Bolton boss Gary Megson who resorted to borrowing a Chelsea baseball cap to protect his head, but he tapped over the Chelsea crest before wearing it.
Avram Grant decided to replace Claude Makelele with Shevchenko at half-time.
Within seconds of the restart, Florent Malouda hit a 20-yard right footer which Al-Habsi tipped onto the crossbar and the ball was cleared.
Chelsea piled on the pressure with first Belletti and the Joe Cole having shots on target which were deflected for corners.
Al-Habsi produced a marvellous save from Drogba on 61 minutes after the Ivory Coast striker had sliced through the Bolton defence and left fly with a vicious left footer.
But 50 seconds later and Chelsea took the lead. Frank Lampard shot into the penalty area and Shevchenko popped up to slot the ball home from six yards.
Bolton almost equalised immediately but Cech was quick to snuff out El Hadji Diouf's close-range effort from three yards out.
Joe Cole had a brilliant chance to put the game beyond doubt as he raced into the penalty area on 75 minutes, but he shot directly at Al-Habsi who punched the ball clear.
Chelsea escaped on 79 minutes when a punch out by Cech fell to Taylor, who headed towards the Chelsea goal.
The ball rebounded off the crossbar to Stelios Giannakopoulos, whose effort on goal was cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.
But with seconds remaining, Cech let the ball from Taylor's left boot slip through his legs to give battling Bolton the point which ensured a season which almost ended in relegation finished on a high.