Fellaini derails MU
Sir Alex Ferguson was left counting the cost of Manchester United's failure to beat Everton at Goodison Park after Marouane Fellaini's header cancelled out Darren Fletcher's opening strike.
Elsewhere former United midfielder Kieran Richardson's thunderous free-kick sealed Sunderland's first home win in the Wear-Tyne derby for 28 years as second from bottom Newcastle were beaten 2-1 at the Stadium of Light.
Djibril Cisse put Sunderland ahead in the 20th minute after turning a cross from Steed Malbranque before Newcastle drew level through a header from striker Shola Ameobi.
It looked as if both sides would have to settle for a point until Richardson left fly with a free-kick from the edge of the box 15 minutes from time which gave Newcastle keeper Shay Given no chance.
United, looking for a seventh straight win in all competitions, went ahead in the 22nd minute when Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher, after receiving a pass from veteran winger Ryan Giggs, took the ball away from Joleon Lescott before shooting through the legs of former United goalkeeper Tim Howard.
But at the other end another United old boy helped Everton draw level, Phil Neville supplying the cross from which midfielder Fellaini headed in a 63rd minute equaliser.
With Wayne Rooney out of sorts and missing out on the chance to claim his 100th career goal against his former club - he was taken off in the 71st minute by Ferguson in what seemed a bid to pre-empt further trouble after the striker provocatively kissed his United badge after being booked - the visitors paid the price for failing to finish the game off when in total control.
In the end they had cause to be grateful for a point as Everton improved dramatically to fight back during a thrilling second period.
United had looked on course for a routine win during a memorable opening 45 minutes in which Ryan Giggs played a starring role.
With Fletcher providing admirable support alongside his captain, Everton quickly lost any foothold they may have had in the game and United were able to attack at will.
United's complete dominance, though, appeared to deprive them of their urgency in front of goal and instead of going for the kill after Fletcher's superbly taken 22nd minute opener, they were guilty of over-elaboration.
Predictably it was Dimitar Berbatov and Cristiano Ronaldo who showcased the most flicks and feints at the expense of delivering the quality final ball that would have brought more reward.
Most infuriating was Berbatov's nonchalant 32nd minute flick that sent the ball tamely in Tim Howard's arms when the clever approach play of Giggs and Rooney deserved a more convincing finish.
Two minutes earlier former United keeper Howard had denied Giggs the goal his display deserved while it took a superbly timed lunge from Phil Jagielka to nick the ball off Rooney's toe when the England forward seemed certain to score from just six yards out.
Half-time couldn't come soon enough for David Moyes' side and it was to the manager's credit that Everton emerged for the second period transformed.
At times Everton's more robust approach stepped over the line, most tellingly when United old boy Phil Neville's thunderous challenge left Ronaldo flat out, earning the home skipper a yellow card and sparking an ugly melee.
But Moyes's men largely kept their composure and were rewarded in the 63rd minute when Neville's cross was met by Fellaini's towering header, the Belgian claiming his second goal since his 15 million pounds move from Standard Liege.
The momentum was clearly with Everton and they should have been ahead sixty seconds later when Yakubu burst into the United box and saw his shot deflected onto the post by Edwin Van der Sar's leg.
Then, having been forced onto the back foot for most of the second period, Ronaldo had a great chance to clinch victory two minutes from time but his miss summed up Ferguson's frustration.
The draw left United five points behind leaders Chelsea and Liverpool, who face one another at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.