Reading looked overawed and disjointed in a one-sided opening five minutes, but settled from the moment Nicky Shorey fizzed in a vicious corner which somehow passed through a corridor of bodies.
After United had been frustrated by the visitors in a fairly tepid 10 minute spell, a patient spell of possession play culminated in a fine double save from Federici, who first pushed away Tom Cleverley's low effort, then brilliantly plunged to his right to somehow turn Young's follow-up around the post.
That brief flurry of activity was out of keeping with a pedestrian opening half which was unfortunately most notable for the withdrawal of Jones, who was left limping heavily after a crunching, 50-50 challenge with McAnuff.
The defender was replaced by Nani, who quickly provided the outstanding moment of the half with an outrageous first-time volley which thudded off Federici's right-hand post.
Clearly keen to impact on proceeding, the Portuguese then forced Reading's Australian stopper into action with a vicious, dipping left-footed effort which was only just pawed over the bar in the final act of the half.