Criminally, however, United had allowed Spurs to score in the intervening minute – Clint Dempsey stroking in the rebound after Bale had stretched Lindegaard – and restore their lead. And so, less than 10 minutes after Tottenham began the second half 2-0 ahead the scoreboard read 3-2 to the visitors.
The breathless drama didn't stop there. Rooney curled a peach of a free-kick against the woodwork on 61 minutes and van Persie had the ball in the net soon after, only to see his celebrations cut short by the referee assistant's raised flag.
Sandro then escaped sanction when the ball struck his hand inside the penalty area (it would have been a harsh award) before Rooney went close with a low effort and van Persie dragged a golden opportunity well wide of the post.
Gallas, under intense pressure from Rooney, headed clear from underneath his own crossbar as the match entered its final phase, before Paul Scholes saw a blistering 25-yard effort well saved by Friedel and Carrick clipped the crossbar with a near-post flick-on.
All the while, the seconds on the clock ticked away and, with them, United's chances of victory faded.
In the end, despite a valliant final few minutes that even saw Lindegaard charge into the Tottenham penalty area, there was no dramatic comeback.
Defeat, a fate sealed by two sloppy concessions in the first half, was bitterly disappointing. And although Sir Alex wil rue those early defensive errors, he can take comfort in the knowledge that once again his team have been involved in one of the Premier League's truly memorable