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 header from the rebound. There was a suggestion the whole of the ball had crossed the line but play continued despite the Magpies' appeals.
Newcastle kept pressing with Ba beating Rio Ferdinand to head wide so Sir Alex introduced more width by replacing Kagawa with fit-again Antonio Valencia. It helped United improve with Cleverley and Welbeck combining but the midfielder's wild finish squandered the opportunity. Rooney then forced a diving save out of Harper after capitalising on some slack play by Tiote.
Pardew's side still carried a threat and Hatem Ben Arfa could only contribute a wayward shot after being afforded far too much space to turn on a pass by Cabaye. However, van Persie had the ball in the net again, from Rooney's pass, only to be rightly flagged offside.