United are safely through to the last 16 of the Champions League - but the battle for top spot with fellow qualifiers Villarreal will continue into December after a fourth successive stalemate between the sides.
The Reds seemed more intent on winning than their cautious Spanish counterparts and will now hope to secure the more favourable draw they deserve by beating Celtic's conquerors Aalborg at Old Trafford on 10 December.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s line-up at El Madrigal showed five changes from the side that started Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Aston Villa. Nani and Darren Fletcher replaced Ji-sung Park and Ryan Giggs in midfield, and Anderson also came in at the expense of a striker, Carlos Tevez. At the back, Tomasz Kuszczak deputised for Edwin van der Sar and Jonny Evans was given another chance to impress alongside Rio Ferdinand, with Nemanja Vidic rested.
Eager to mark his recall, Anderson was instrumental in two early attacks that saw United utilise the left flank. First, he fired in a cross-cum-shot which Diego Lopez had to palm away from the Villarreal goal; next he played in Patrice Evra for a low cross that Wayne Rooney tapped home, only to see an official’s flag raised for offside.
Ex-Reds striker Giuseppe Rossi gave Kuszczak his first save, a simple one low to his right. The keeper's next act was to parry a swerving drive from Santi Cazorla.
Cristiano Ronaldo's resolve, having shrugged off a knock to start, was twice tested under the referee's nose in the first half. Italian official Roberto Rossetti had a word with the United winger and the defender who seemed to claw at his neck - later he showed Javi Venta the yellow card for a foul on Ronaldo, whose resulting free-kick was saved comfortably by Lopez. The next booking was for United's Patrice Evra, after he brought down