The Reds had shaded the first-half action, particularly on the break with Kagawa, Cleverley, Chicharito and Welbeck lively in attack. But West Ham bristled with intent from crosses and set-pieces and Sam Allardyce will have felt worthy of half-time parity.
United started brightly after the break and good combination-play from Welbeck and Rafael on the right led to an opening for Cleverley on the edge of the box, but the ball bobbled and the Reds midfielder blazed a shot over the bar.
However, United were once again undone by the combination of Cole and Collins in the 59th minute and really it was a carbon copy of the Hammers’ first-half goal. For all United’s neat attacking play, it was West Ham’s power that held sway after the hour mark.
United subsequently called on some muscle in the form of substitute Antonio Valencia, who was joined on the field by in-form front man Robin van Persie as the Reds sought a more direct approach. The Dutchman almost made an instant impact from Buttner’s corner, heading just wide at the front post.
Even with added firepower, the momentum of United’s first-half play had been dulled by West Ham’s persistence. And the last 20 minutes – so often a time for swashbuckling comebacks and frenetic fights to the finish – looked like it would yield nothing.
Then just seconds after Giggs had headed Rafael’s deep cross over the bar from close range, the Welshman inspired another van Persie rescue job. Latching onto Giggs’ brilliant pass into the area, the Dutchman was ruthless with his finish to claim a dramatic draw and set up a replay at Old Trafford.