Made excellent reflex saves from Fellaini and Smalling headers early in the second half, and did not put Rooney off from inspiring a winner in the dying seconds.
Oddly, the giant centre-back looked more comfortable on the deck than in the air. A big threat in the opposition penalty box at set pieces.
Marshalled the defence extremely well in open play but did not always do enough to stop the runner during United's dangerous corners.
Kept Valencia quiet and was comfortable moving forwards with the ball.
The fans' favourite was heavily involved in the first three goals. His incisive pass started the move for Cardiff's equaliser but Rooney's shot deflected off him for the opener and he failed to track Evra's run for United's second.
K. Théophile Catherine
Tracked Januzaj and, later, Welbeck in close check as he defended with great concentration.
Provided energy and endeavour on the right flank.
Booted into the air by Rooney after eight minutes but got his own back with a quite brilliant curled pass to put Campbell through for the equaliser.
Some of his corners were a bit floaty but made up for it with his smooth passing and a brilliant delivery on to Kim's head for the late equaliser.
Made former team-mates Ferdinand and Evans look pedestrian with his pace and movement. Took his first-time goal quite brilliantly after out-running Evans and wriggled between the centre-back pair after 54 minutes only to chip his shot on to the bar.
His pace and mobility caused Smalling some problems but was sacrificed after 64 minutes to make way for Noon.
Commanded his penalty box well enough
The stand-in skipper led from the front with an authoritative display. Made a string of left-flank raids and added to his catalogue of crucial headed goals with the winner.
Gave away some unnecessary fouls and offered little going forward. Once again, did not totally convince at right-back. Had two good second-half scoring chances.
Comfortable in the air but struggled against Campbell's pace. Out-sprinted by the striker for Cardiff's goal.
At times, most notably against Campbell, looked every day of his 35 years. Failed to stop Kim nipping in front of him for the injury-time equaliser.
One of his best games in a United shirt. Robust and strong in the air and kept it simple in possession. Had a second-half header brilliantly saved by Marshall.
Not heavily involved but showed further evidence of his velvet touch and technique. Replaced by Welbeck after 66 minutes.
His passing was a little off and he was booked for a late, high tackle but his energy and commitment were impressive.
Got stuck in but was not as effective on the counterattack as he usually is in home matches.
Struggled to hold the ball up and no genuine chances fell his way.
His excellence was overshadowed by his recklessness on a day when he scored one and created another but he should have been sent off in the eighth minute for lashing out at Mutch. The No10's opener was slightly fortuitous but there was no doubting the consistent quality of his set-piece delivery.