Anton Ferdinand's stoppage-time own goal helped Manchester United salvage a 2-2 draw against 10-man Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Goals from Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones had put Steve Bruce's side within moments of their first win at United for 41 years despite Kieran Richardson's late red card.
But Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who had gone into the match looking for their ninth successive victory, earned a point when Ferdinand - brother of Untied defender Rio - deflected a Patrice Evra shot into his own net.
The draw left United one point clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, but the champions will be knocked off top spot if the Blues beat Liverpool on Sunday.
Sunderland opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Bent hit his seventh goal of the season.
Lee Cattermole knocked a simple pass to Bent on the edge of the penalty box, who, noticing that John O'Shea had given him too much space, turned and rifled a low shot past Ben Foster.
United looked uncharacteristically poor on the ball following Sunderland's early goal with neither Paul Scholes or midfield partner Darren Fletcher influencing the game as they can.
United's frustrations were perfectly summed up by Scholes' booking after 25 minutes for a deliberate trip on Bent - there was no malice there but the midfielder did have a little kick out in order to stop Bent from launching an attack.
Although the pace was relentless, clear cut opportunities remained at a premium as the half progressed although Nemanja Vidic's intelligent cross into a packed Sunderland box should perhaps have found a United shirt while at the other end a long-range effort from Jones was easily smothered by Foster.
Anderson replaced Scholes at half-time, a tacit admission from Ferguson that he had produced little of note in the first half.
United then had their first real opportunity of the game courtesy of a defensive mix-up from Sunderland.
Ferdinand's weak header back towards his own goalkeeper Craig Gordon did not quite reach, allowing Danny Welbeck to threaten but Gordon dived at his feet and although the ball landed at Rooney's feet, Ferdinand had then recovered enough to block his effort.
However, nobody could then have stopped Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov as he produced a stunning moment of magic to equalise.
After Sunderland only half-cleared a goalmouth scramble, O'Shea delivered a deep cross and Berbatov thought he would try his luck with an acrobatic bicycle kick which flashed into the far corner of the net.
However, United's hopes of capitalising were then dashed as Sunderland took a 2-1 lead through Jones.
Andy Reid floated a ball towards the penalty spot and Jones out-jumped Vidic and crashed into Foster to head into an empty net.
Such goals are normally disallowed for a foul on the keeper but not on this occasion.
United continued to push but found a resilient Sunderland defence in the way although they were not helped when Richardson was dismissed for a second bookable offence with five minutes left for kicking the ball away.
And they were left to rue his absence as the clock ticked down as Evra hit a long-range shot that was going comfortably wide until it bounced off Ferdinand to gift United a point.