Van Persie's shot from a tight angle was kicked behind by Steve Harper and the Dutchman took the corner himself with Evans showing great desire to power home a towering header. The one-way traffic continued with Rafael doing brilliantly to collect a De Gea kick-out, linking with van Persie, and sending a thumping drive inches wide of Harper's right-hand upright.
It really should have been 2-0 in the 12th minute when Welbeck robbed a hesitant Harper and rode a desperate challenge from the keeper. With van Persie unmarked in the middle, the England international, off balance, was only able to drag the wrong side of the post.
Any concern that the glaring miss could prove costly proved unfounded as Rooney's free-kick was diverted behind by Harper's fingertips. From Rooney's resulting corner, Evra showed great movement to pop up in exactly the right place to nod home, prompting an inquest in the Newcastle defence about who should have been marking the Frenchman. Pardew regrouped his troops and the inevitable response started with Jonas Gutierrez whistling a drive off target, even if De Gea probably had it covered.
Although three Reds were booked, the worst tackle of the first half came from Cheick Tiote, who was cautioned for a separate incident, as the game became a little fractious. Most of the chances started to come the hosts' way as Ba and Yohan Cabaye blazed over and another Gutierrez effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Both teams mustered an opportunity from a set-piece as the half drew to a close - Carrick's flick-on evaded Rooney from a van Persie corner and Cisse skimmed a header wide when claiming, rightly, that his shirt was being tugged by Evra. There was a huge let-off for United at the start of the second half when Ba headed against the bar with De Gea stranded off his line but the keeper recovered to claw away Cisse's diving