A controversial Demba Ba penalty saw Newcastle steal a point at Old Trafford after Javier Hernandez had opened the scoring.
Hernandez's deflected goal opened the scoring on 49 minutes, but Ba levelled from the spot just after the hour mark when Rio Ferdinand was adjudged to have brought down Hatem Ben Arfa in the box.
The visitors never looked like pushing on and winning though, and when Jonas Gutierrez received his second yellow card on 78 minutes the stage was set for a thrilling finale.
Desperate not to drop points in the title race, the hosts piled forward and created plenty of chances. Just three minutes after Gutierrez's dismissal Patrice Evra teed up a shot on the edge of the box and Tim Krul was at full stretch to tip it around the post.
Moments later Nani found Ashley Young free in the box and his shot beat the Newcastle keeper and hit the foot of the post. With no real outlet up front Newcastle struggled to clear their lines properly and another corner was flicked goalwards by Hernandez only for Danny Simpson to make a remarkable goal line clearance.
The home side kept on coming and it looked like they had snatched all three points when Hernandez tapped home from close range, but the linesman's flag was up and Newcastle walked away with a draw.
It was all a far cry from a second half which never really got going. The visitors were industrious, closing down their opponents all over the pitch and Manchester United were unable to dictate the tempo of the game in the manner they would have liked.
There were chances though, and Krul had to pull off an impressive save when Ryan Giggs got a toe on Fabio's cross, while at the other end Ryan Taylor kicked thin air when presented with a chance of a volley deep inside the 18-yard box.
But it took until the second half for the game to really get going. The hosts took the lead early on. Wayne Rooney's freekick was dinked into the wall, but the rebound fell for him and he lashed in a shot. The ball then hit Steven Taylor, before bouncing off Hernandez and past a helpless Krul.
If the visitors felt hard done by in the manner in which they conceded, their luck returned 15 minutes later when Ferdinand made what looked like a good challenge on Ben Arfa only for the linesman to flag for a penalty.
His team-mates were incensed, but after the fuss had died down Ba stepped up to tuck home an excellent spot kick.
The home side then shifted up through the gears and they were already in the ascendancy by the time Gutierrez saw red. But a backs-to-the-wall effort from the Newcastle defence and some fantastic saves from Krul somehow kept them at bay.
Sir Alex Ferguson will rightly be furious at the penalty decision, but of more pressing concern is the fact Manchester City will have the chance to go seven points clear tomorrow. For Newcastle though, the good times roll on.