had United's first chance of the afternoon but saw his volley from 20 yards saved easily by Pepe Reina.
Reina was beaten on 17 minutes when Antonio Valencia darted inside off the right touchline, made a beeline for the penalty area and let fly from the edge of the box. But the Ecuadorian's low shot cannoned off the post and out to safety, much to the agony of United's vocal travelling support.
That support was silenced four minutes later when Liverpool took the lead through Daniel Agger. David De Gea, starting in goal for the first time since New Year's Eve, couldn't fight his way past Andy Carroll in order to claim Steven Gerrard's corner so could only watch, stranded, as Agger rose to head home from six yards.
The goal didn't dent United's confidence, though, and Sir Alex's men enjoyed long spells of possession in Liverpool's half before restoring parity just before the break. Rafael, who defended superbly all afternoon, scampered down the right flank and skipped past a challenge before cutting the ball back from the goal-line. There waiting, 12 yards from goal, was Ji-sung Park, who pulled the trigger first time to fire United level.
The equaliser was well deserved and came at the end of a half in which both teams had enjoyed bright spells and yet neither could claim to have dominated. The break afforded time for reflection and it should be noted that, despite the intense rivalry between the sides and the hype surrounding the fixture, the match was played in a sporting spirit, with barely a bad tackle made nor a heated word exchanged.
When play resumed following the interval, United looked more threatening and even had a half-hearted penalty appeal for handball turned down after