linking with Tom Cleverley. At the other end, the youthful defence backtracked when the impressive Tavernier made in-roads but the full-back dragged his shot wide of David De Gea’s right-hand post, whilst firing a warning of intent.
Rooney's move further back was a bid to gain more control as Sir Alex switched to more of a 4-4-2 with Danny Welbeck joining Hernandez in attack. The tactical ploy almost reaped dividends when Rooney’s exquisite pass released Welbeck but the striker’s powerful shot again extended the alert Elliot.
The deadlock really should have been broken as the clock ticked into the 35th minute. Hernandez skipped past Fabricio Coloccini’s lunging tackle and picked up the loose ball following a touch by Welbeck to instantly put Cleverley in the clear. With the whole of Old Trafford expecting the net to bulge, the England international instead fired wide of the inviting target.
However, the Reds still broke through before half time courtesy of a sublime strike by Anderson. The Brazilian collected a pass infield by Darren Fletcher and worked an opening onto his favoured left foot before unleashing a spectacular finish that flew in off the inside of Elliot’s right-hand post.
It was a goal of genuine quality and lifted the crowd ahead of the second period with both sides going on the attack after re-emerging from the dressing rooms. Anderson skied an opening after he and Rooney produced fine passes in a build-up that set Welbeck away down the left while Hernandez sent a downward header wide from Vermijl’s cross.
Newcastle had opportunities of their own, through Mike Williamson and Shola Ameobi, before Haris Vuckic was unlucky with a curling effort after neatly side-stepping Michael Keane. But it was a move with menace from United