Evra's slip granted Schneiderlin the freedom of the penalty area to plant a header beyond Lindegaard when Lambert floated the ball into the danger zone. Only Lindegaard denied Puncheon with a near-post save after the winger skipped past Evra so Sir Alex threw on Paul Scholes and Nani for Tom Cleverley and Kagawa.
Scholes' first involvement was to set up van Persie for an attempt from a difficult angle that forced prompt action by Davis but Rio Ferdinand needed to be alert to cut out a Lambert centre after the hard-working striker sprung the offside trap. United were handed a lifeline when another stray pass by keeper Davis allowed Nani to find van Persie and the Dutch star was clattered from behind by fellow countryman Joos Hooiveld.
Mike Dean awarded what looked a blatant penalty after having a fine view of the incident but van Persie was guilty of over-elaborating from the spot and Davis atoned for his mistake by pulling off a comfortable save. It appeared to be a serious blow to any hopes of overturning the deficit and the Reds seemed stunned for some time afterwards.
Substitute Javier Hernandez wriggled free to force a desperate last-ditch tackle by Clyne before the late drama unfolded - just when hope seemed to be lost with only three minutes left. Rafael's cross was headed against an upright by Ferdinand but van Persie pounced on the rebound to lash into an unguarded net. In stoppage time, he completed the rescue act with a bullet header from Nani's inviting corner to spark scenes of