The league leaders were pegged back by an at-times dominant Potters side, with the beanpole forward opening his account for a sixth Premier League club in a fair result
United looked threatening on the break early on with Chicharito bursting forward into a one-on-one situation with Asmir Begovic, but Jonathan Woodgate recovered to reach forward and get just enough on the ball with his tackle. The Mexican striker, though, required treatment after clattering into Begovic and was substituted a few minutes later.
After several scrappy minutes without incident, Chicharito's replacement Michael Owen dragged multiple defenders out of position just outside the box, allowing Nani to maraud through. After completing a smart one-two with Darren Fletcher, he jinked away from his remaining marker and slice home a quality finish low into the corner.
But United could not be complacent and immediately afterward David de Gea was forced into an excellent save. As Stoke countered the ball broke to the onrushing Andy Wilkinson, who burst into the box and unleashed a stinging shot bound for the top corner, but the Spaniard reacted very well to deflect it wide.
Another great effort from de Gea was then required when Jonathan Walters hit a rasping shot bound for the far bottom corner. The young stopper dived to his right to get a small but vital touch, ensuring a halftime lead for the league leaders.
United enjoyed some pretty but aimless possession in the Stoke box that came to nothing after the restart, and a moment of contrast was provided soon after when Peter Crouch rose to meet Matt Etherington’s corner, heading a simple finish home to score his first goal for his new side.
There was no doubt that Stoke was the team in control as the midpoint of the second half arrived, with Jermaine Pennant and Etherington causing problems on the wings. De Gea was forced to tackle Crouch with his feet when Pennant supplied him in the box, with shouts for a penalty rightly ignored.
Both sides continued to trade blows but clear-cut chances were few and far between, with Crouch still the focal point for Stoke.
With the draw, United slips into a tie on points for the top spot with Manchester City, but still holds the advantage on goal differential. Stoke meanwhile, moves into seventh spot.