The contrasting formations of the two sides - 4-3-3 for Chelsea, 4-4-2 for United - made for an end-to-end spectacle, with the Blues driving in central areas and the Reds looking to spread the play wide and at pace wherever possible. The open mood was further aided by uncharacteristcally wasteful passing from both sides in the opening exchanges.
Raul Meireles drilled the game's first effort of note into De Gea's side-netting after United had failed to clear a corner, but the visitors were soon up in arms when Danny Welbeck was sent tumbling by Gary Cahill on the edge of the Chelsea area, only for referee Howard Webb to wave away the appeals.
Frustration and carelessness reigned for both sides in the opening half-hour, as possession was traded and promising openings were squandered with abandon. The Reds' clearest sight of goal came as Michael Carrick released Rooney down the right, but Branislav Ivanovic slid in to nick the ball to safety before Welbeck could tap in a simple conversion.
Fittingly, the game's opening goal was far from easy on the eye. Daniel Sturridge was allowed to pick his way to the byline on the Chelsea right, deep inside the United area. As the ex-Manchester City striker jabbed a cross into a crowded six yard box from point-blank range, De Gea flicked out a boot, but only diverted the ball against the helpless Evans, off whom it ricocheted into the unguarded goal.