Cleverley chanced his arm himself but sent a wasteful shot rising into the East Stand after Cech punched out a Giggs cross following some impressive industry by Anderson, who was performing well in patches. Giggs was again involved when placing a through ball beyond Branislav Ivanovic for van Persie but the lone striker's first-time shot bounced a foot wide.
After Oscar's ambitious drive fizzed past Lindegaard but also beyond the far post, United finished the first half strongly. Giggs stabbed an awkward left-footed volley off target from an Antonio Valencia centre and van Persie had a header saved after Nemanja Vidic popped up in the left-wing position, galloping onto a fancy flick by Evra.
Chelsea felt there was controversy at the start of the second period when referee Webb felt Giggs had not fouled David Luiz with replays proving any offence took place outside of the area, in any case. The Reds were reduced to largely playing on the break but should have done much better from one such raid when Jones misplaced a cross after Anderson put him clear on the right.
Mata escaped Giggs to nudge the ball into Lampard's path but the veteran skied over the bar and Vidic had to stylishly cover for Jones after the midfielder was caught napping by Ba as the greater threat was posed by Rafa Benitez's men.
In the 67th minute, Mata threw himself to the ground to win a cheap free-kick out of Evra which ultimately led to Vidic making a vital headed clearance and Sir Alex decided it was time to introduce Wayne Rooney, with Alexander Büttner also appearing in a double change for Anderson and Cleverley.