Manchester United started the defence of their Premier League title with a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at Old Trafford, Darren Fletcher's goal cancelling out Obafemi Martins' effort for the visitors. With Carlos Tevez not included in the squad for family reasons, Sir Alex Ferguson opted for a partnership of Wayne Rooney and Fraizer Campbell in attack, but last year's double winners demonstrated their need for new attacking options.
They fell behind to Martins' powerful header but despite Fletcher's immediate reply in the 24th minute, United could not find a winner, even though they dominated both territory and possession. To make matters worse for Ferguson, who has been heavily linked with a move for the Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov, he lost midfielder Michael Carrick to injury in the first half as his team drew at home in the opening round for the second successive year.
The hosts had enjoyed a couple of early flurries, but Newcastle were the first really to threaten, with Martins skipping past Paul Scholes and firing wide of Edwin van der Sar's goal. The Premier League champions went close themselves when Wayne Rooney surged down the left and crossed for Premier League debutant Campbell. His headed was powerful but it went straight at goalkeeper Shay Given, who blocked with his head.
With just under 15 minutes gone, Given was called upon again to make a fine double-save from Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes, after Nicky Butt's loose pass. In the 22nd minute, Newcastle took a shock lead with Martins escaping Fletcher to meet Danny Guthrie's corner with enough force to beat Scholes on the line.
Crucially, Newcastle centre-back Steven Taylor was injured in the process of Martins scoring and was still off the pitch receiving treatment when the hosts equalised just two minutes later. Patrice Evra fed Ryan Giggs on the left, and the Welsh veteran squeezed a cross past James Milner for Fletcher to stab in from close range.
But just after that Ferguson was given another injury concern when Carrick limped out of the fray. United started the second period with real purpose but again it was the visitors that had the first opportunity, with Martins driving straight at Van der Sar after collecting Butt's cross-field ball.
Guthrie struck wide from distance as Newcastle continued to look steady but 11 minutes after the restart, Given pulled off a fine one-handed stop after Campbell shot from just outside the area.
The hosts were camped in enemy territory but despite dominating possession, they were struggling to create openings and had another scare when Martins just missed from around 30 yards and Milner had an effort deflected over. The Nigerian forward should have put Newcastle ahead again from the resulting corner, but he headed over after slipping his marker John O'Shea.
Ferguson was growing frustrated and brought on Brazilian youngster Rodrigo Possebon for his Premier League debut in place of Giggs. The home team pounded away and after Rooney's shot was deflected wide, Fletcher's corner was met by Nemanja Vidic and the Serbian's header came back off the bar.
After Campbell's reckless challenge on Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini, Ferguson handed Rafael, another Brazilian, his league bow. But even that failed to ignite United and after Evra and Rooney both missed openings in added time, the Magpies held on to take an impressive point back to St James' Park.