every ball. Matters almost worsened for the league leaders when Sylvan Marveaux curled a free-kick against De Gea’s crossbar, but the interval arrived with a one-goal deficit reflecting kindly on United’s display.
The second period began with greater promise than the first, with van Persie volleying wide from Giggs’ centre, but Newcastle defended aggressively; holding a high line and snapping into challenges with on-going vigour. The Magpies also continued to threaten at the other end, with Ba flashing a header over from Cisse’s cross.
Shortly before the hour-mark, with the visitors apparently holding firm, United levelled out of nothing. Van Persie’s cross was tamely headed away by Perch, straight to Evra. The skipper took a touch and fired a venomous low effort through Ba’s legs and underneath the fingertips of Krul, bagging the Frenchman's fourth goal of a relatively bountiful season.
United’s dander was up and the mood inside Old Trafford was dramatically lifted, yet Newcastle’s ongoing menace was signalled when Ba only narrowly failed to reach Cisse’s knock-down in a packed penalty area. Sure enough, the visitors took the lead for a third time with 22 minutes remaining.
Substitute Gabriel Obertan took advantage of yawning space down United’s right flank, slid a ball across the area and the onrushing Cisse powered home an unstoppable finish. An apparently devastating blow to United, but there would be greater drama to follow.
Incredibly, the Reds drew level just two minutes later. Valencia powered down the right flank and crossed for van Persie, whose powerful effort was