Peter Crouch was the Potters hero heading in his first goal since his deadline day move from Tottenham to cancel out Nani’s opener and ruin the Premier League leaders 100% start to the campaign.
The Red Devil’s had much criticised goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for pulling off a number of outstanding saves to keep out the hosts and keep his side level.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side remain a point ahead of rivals City in the table but could have easily lost the game with the second half an entertaining end-to-end affair.
United were without top scorer Wayne Rooney who missed the game due to a hamstring injury and also lost Johnny Evans in the warm up meaning winger Antonio Valencia played at right back.
Ferguson suffered a further blow when Javier Hernandez was forced off after clattering into Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic. The incident should have seen United given a penalty as the Mexican darted clear only to be tripped by Jonathan Woodgate causing him to smash into Begovic.
The contest was certainly a feisty one with tackles flying in all over the place with referee Peter Walton being called into action more times than he would have hoped.
He was forced into booking Glenn Whelan after a rash lunge on Patrice Evra that had Ferguson off the bench and remonstrating for a tougher punishment for the midfielder.
Stokes physical style didn’t perturb a patched up United side and they took the lead courtesy of Nani with the Portuguese winger exchanging passes with Darren Fletcher before shifting the ball onto his left and firing it low beyond Begovic from just inside the area.
The Potters responded immediately and finally called De Gea into action. The Spanish keeper showed outstanding reflexes to tip Andy Wilkinson’s rasping drive onto the bar and preserve his sides slender lead.
He then showed his agility getting down low to tip Jon Walters’ low effort round the post as the Tony Pulis’ side dominated in the minutes leading up to half time.
They continued that supremacy after the restart penning United back into their own half and finally making the breakthrough with Crouch breaking his Potters duck in the 52nd minute.
Matthew Etherington fired over a delicious corner from the right finding the head of Crouch after the England striker had ghosted in between Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand to nod the ball home.
United’s defence was looking weaker by the minute and they had their young goalkeeper to thank yet again for keeping them level. Crouch again found space in the area only to see his header from Jermaine Pennant’s cross batted away by De Gea’s elbow.
The visitors were then adamant they should have had a penalty with Evra’s shot appearing to hit Ryan Shawcross in the arm only for Walton to wave away any appeals.
With just minutes left on the clock both sides had chances to snatch victory with Crouch dragging a shot wide after chesting the ball down in the area.
Ryan Giggs then squandered a fantastic opportunity slicing his volley wide of the goal after Nani had picked him out with a beautifully floated cross leaving the veteran staring into the heavens.