United ground out a hard-fought point at Goodison Park, surviving a second-half onslaught from Everton after utterly dominating the first period.
Darren Fletcher put the Reds ahead midway through the first half, and Everton were dependent on an inspired first 45 minutes from former United goalkeeper Tim Howard to keep them in the game.
A fired up Toffees side turned the game on its head after the break, however, upsetting United's rhythm and drawing level through Marouane Fellaini's towering header.
The second half was a far cry from the first, when United looked sharp from the very first whistle. Ryan Giggs and Fletcher in particular were inspired, dominating the central midfield battle against a Toffees side shorn of the suspended Tim Cahill.
The pair gave a masterclass in movement and one-touch passing. Giggs saw an early shot saved by Howard and Fletcher had a header deflected wide but, after 21 minutes, the pair combined to devastating effect.
Fletcher's initial blocked shot ricocheted to Giggs, 30 yards out. The Welshman threaded a perfect ball through to Fletcher, who had continued his run, and watched on as one touch bypassed Joleon Lescott, and a second slipped the ball between Howard's legs.
An already one-sided encounter looked like it become embarrassingly so as United, buoyed by the goal, surged forward in search of more. But for the efforts of Howard, who at one point made three fine saves in a minute, Everton would have been buried by the break.
First, the American tipped Ronaldo's 30-yarder round the post, then reacted brilliantly to keep out Nemanja Vidic's flicked header from the resultant corner. In the same passage of play, Giggs beat two players and curled an effort goalwards, only for Howard to tip it wide.