Rio Ferdinand's tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa in the 63rd minute looked a clean one but the assistant referee had other ideas and Mike Jones pointed to the spot. It cancelled out Javier Hernandez's opener, his first goal at Old Trafford this term, and the Tynesiders held out despite playing the final 12 minutes with 10 men when Jonas Gutierrez was sent off.
Sir Alex opted for experience in his starting XI with Ryan Giggs in central midfield alongside Michael Carrick and the Reds started quite promisingly with Hernandez having three early sights of goal. Unfortunately, the Mexican was unable to find a finishing touch after Wayne Rooney linked well with his strike partner.
Newcastle mustered a decent attempt of their own when Ben Arfa's scooped pass released Ba but the Magpies' top scorer's volley was comfortably saved by David De Gea. Ben Arfa needlessly berated Rooney, earning a yellow card, after the striker was penalised for a foul on Fabricio Coloccini but this was a rare first-half flashpoint as the teams tried to contend with the sweeping Manchester rain.
Another clear-cut opportunity did not arrive until the half-hour mark when Nani, who had switched flanks with Ashley Young, fed Hernandez with a slide-rule pass but the Mexcian striker fired over the top. United seemed to find some urgency as, seconds later, Giggs touched on a Fabio cross which was superbly dealt with by Krul, palming it away to safety with Hernandez lurking and hoping for to pounce on the rebound.