Indeed, West Ham continued to push forward and Carroll, unconcerned by collecting a belated booking for a flare-up with De Gea, smashed a long-range effort close to the Spaniard’s goal. When Diame turned Rooney easily on the edge of the box, the midfielder curled a delightful finish through a crowd of players and into the net to regain the lead for the hosts.
Jussi Jaaskelainen was called into action for the first time with the hour-mark approaching when he made a miraculous stop with his boot to deny van Persie but the Dutchman was offside in any case. Jaaskelainen was then fortunate when a well-placed van Persie corner saw Rooney's scuffed shot skip past the Finn, only for Gary O'Neil to hack away off the line.
At least Sir Alex's side were starting to maintain a decent tempo and rediscovering glimpses of the form that has taken them clear at the top of the table. Only a wonderful one-handed save by Jaaskelainen kept out van Persie's header from a Valencia centre as the Reds clicked through the gears, replacing Rooney with Ryan Giggs.
Kagawa moved into a central position with Giggs stationed on the left and the former Borussia Dortmund schemer was heavily involved in the second equaliser. Collecting a Carrick pass, he blasted in a splendid shot that hit both posts and van Persie was on hand to emphatically lift the rebound into the roof of the net. TV replays showed United's top scorer was offside at the moment the initial shot was unleashed.
Hernandez was introduced, surprisingly at the expense of the influential Kagawa, and forced another good stop out of Jaaskelainen from Carrick's astute pass. With time running out, van Persie slashed a wild attempt off target and Carrick survived a shout from the crowd for handball, even though the ball hit his chest.