That chance marked a sustained spell of United pressure. Both Nani and Anderson came close from promising positions within the visitors’ area, then a superb left-wing cross surge and cross from Rooney gave Park an unmarked volley which Guaita parried to safety with his legs.
Within the same passage of play, Valencia took the lead. Carrick’s errant pass was pounced upon by the alert Dominguez, who advanced and slipped a pass to Fernandes, and the midfielder struck a powerful low shot between Amos’ legs.
The chance to make history by navigating a Champions League group stage without conceding had gone. More importantly, Valencia had suddenly seized control of Group C, fronting United with the possibility of facing more imposing Spanish opposition – Barcelona and Real Madrid - in the second round.
The Reds' riposte was brisk and almost emphatic. Rooney picked up possession on the left wing, cut infield and curled a stunning effort from 25 yards which thudded against the underside of the crossbar, and Nani’s volleyed rebound skidded agonisingly wide of the far post.
That purpose carried over through half-time, and Berbatov could twice have levelled from Rooney crosses within two minutes of the restart. First the Bulgarian’s flicked header was parried away by Guaita, then his second header dropped just past the stranded goalkeeper's far post.
Berbatov seemed to have levelled in the 56th minute when he clinically volleyed home a Nemanja Vidic flick, but he was correctly ruled offside. Although Aritz Aduriz tested Amos with a near-post volley soon afterwards, United’s dominance was almost total, and Guaita was increasingly under siege.