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 that produced the first Reds goal in front of the Stretford End this season. Rooney was heavily involved and Welbeck passed inside to Cleverley, who calmly steered wide of Elliot before celebrating with a mixture of relief and delight.
Rooney, revelling in his deeper role, bent a shot over the bar but the hosts were caught out when Alan Pardew’s substitutes Shane Ferguson and Cisse had an immediate impact just past the hour. Ferguson raced past Vermijl on the left and his hanging cross evaded De Gea and debut-making Scott Wootton to enable Cisse to dive and nod in.