Everton's injury-hit team came within a quarter of an hour of pulling off an unlikely victory on Manchester United's home turf but held on for a deserved draw.
The Blues were leading through Victor Lindelof's first-half own goal and had been holding their hosts at bay with a disciplined rearguard action but were pegged back by substitute Mason Greenwood's crisp finish in the 77th minute.
Taking charge of his second match following the dismissal of Marco Silva, Duncan Ferguson was forced to deploy Mason Holgate as an emergency midfielder because of injury to Morgan Schneiderlin and Gylfi Sigurdsson's illness and then lost Lucas Digne after 25 minutes because of a recurrence of a groin problem.
United had looked threatening on three occasions before that, with Jesse Lingard going very close within just 30 seconds after being played in by Fred and both Marcus Rashford and Daniel James flashing shots narrowly wide and they forced the first save from Jordan Pickford a minute after Digne had made way for Leighton Baines when he beat away another Rashford effort.
Everton took the lead 10 minutes before half-time, though after Lindelof gave the ball away and Alex Iwobi's cross was headed behind. Baines swung the resulting corner into the six-yard box, Dominic Calvert-Lewin challenged David de Gea who missed his punch and the ball bounced in off Lindelof.
The visitors retained their shape and tenacity in the second half and continued to frustrate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, as Rashford ballooned a shot high over the crossbar and James hammered a shot into Lingard's face after Pickford had palmed away Luke Shaw's drive.
James shot weakly at Pickford and Lindelof fired narrowly over before both managers made attacking substitutions. Ferguson introduced Moise Kean for Bernard and Solskjaer threw Greenwood on in place of Lingard and it was the latter change that proved successful.
United moved the ball along the outside of Everton's area to Greenwood who took a touch and fired a low shot through Yerry Mina's legs and inside Pickford's left-hand post.
Sensing the opportunity to turn the tables, United remained the offensive and when Kean conceded a free kick in a dangerous area and Rashford forced an excellent one-handed stop from Pickford.
It was De Gea who was called upon last to keep it at 1-1, however, when he had to dive to his left and turn Iwobi's shot past the post.
Ferguson made the surprising decision to withdraw Kean after just 18 minutes on the field to give Oumar Niasse a run but it was Rashford who would have the game's last attempt on goal, another shot saved by Pickford.
The point represented a job well done for Everton who prevented United from following up wins over Tottenham and Manchester City and denied them a fourth successive win in all competitions.
It increased the gap to the relegation zone to three points with two home games in a row to come in the Premier League and helps buy the Everton board more time as they mull their options in their search for Silva's long-term successor.
Everton took the lead through a lucky own-goal that was not called back by VAR, but could not hold on to it after a long rearguard campaign with a few missed chances to win it squandered.
Faced with illness of Sigurdsson and Sidibe, Ferguson must make do without four injured midfield players: Schneiderlin as well as Delph, Gbamin and Gomes. Digne, Mina and Coleman are passed fit so the caretaker manager has gone with a back three and Davies in midfield. Anthony Gordon and Cuco Martina are on the bench.
It was a crazy start as Man Utd almost scored from the kick-off. But then at the other end, De Gea was fooled by a cross and forced into a late save, Everton coming close from the corner.
It was a very early yellow card for Davies, who brought down McTominay. But Pickford got the ball and launched a massive kick upfield, Hogate shooting weakly from the throw-in.
A fantastic ball from Lindelof found Rashford, who shot wide. Digne was then beaten for pace by James as he expected Pickford to come for the ball, thankfully James fired wide.
Lingard went in on Keane with his studs showing but made no contact, no booking. Everton were relying on the long ball when they got the chance. Richarlison suffered a phantom knock that troubled him after there was no sympathy from the referee.
Everton were pressing high up the field and maintaining a very high tempo to the game, while the home side wanted to build slowly until they could conjure a way forward down the flanks. But Everton were keeping their shape well, at the expense of a corner that was cleared.
Digne was carrying a groin injury and he went down after 20-odd minutes, Baines replacing him. Davies caught McTominay and gave up a dangerous free-kick that almost caught out Pickford, Rashford firing over the big Everton wall.
There was some good play from Everton, building nicely with a series of accurate passes but it broke down at Coleman. However, the ball fell to Calvert-Lewin but his strike was fielded by De Gea. Richarlison then won a corner after some good work but nothing came of it.
Lindelof pushed Richarlison but Baines's free-kick was overhit and Holgate's difficult volley was driven well wide. Good pressure saw two fine balls in from Iwobi. winning a corner. A brilliant delivery from Baines that actually bobbled in off Lindelof's thigh, with VAR checking for Calvert-Lewin putting off De Gea with his arm. It really looked like a clear foul on the goalkeeper but was strangely not called back. Goal for Everton.
Everton attacked again, another brilliant ball from Iwobi that Calvert-Lewin dived for but could not reach. But the Everton centre-forward was putting himself about well and getting at Man Utd at every opportunity, as Everton continued to press the home side back.
In a remarkable first half, Everton had done more than enough to both match and contain Man Utd, as well as score a somewhat fortuitous goal, deserved as it came through Calvert-Lewin's persistence.
It was end to end after Everton restarted, highly competitive. Calvert-Lewin went on a great run but was pushed wide and could not get off a shot. At the other end, Fred drove wide.
Tom Davies went down in agony, having rolled his ankle. Richarlison then got a silly card for kicking the ball away. Some strange decisions from Michael Oliver, a free-kick to Everton when Holgate fouled McTominay, a corner to Man Utd when Maguire headed the ball wide of the Everton goal.
Man Utd attacked strongly, a brilliant strike by Luke Shaw brought out a very good save from Pickford, pushed out to James who leathered the ball at Lingard's head. Everton attacked well enough until a really lame shot from Calvert-Lewin dribbled well wide.
It was helter-skelter stuff, scrappy for the purist, but passionate and committed for two pretty closely matched teams, with Greenwood on for the Red Devils, and the Blues perhaps starting to tire with 20 minutes left to protect that precious lead.
A corner saw Lindelof fire inches over the bar with Pickford launching himself. Kean replaced Bernard, an interesting change by Ferguson but the greater pressure was understandably coming from the home side.
Everton had a chance to break down the left, with Calvert-Lewin sprinting into space down the right, but Iwobi could not get the ball past Shaw.
Richarlison pounced on a mistake by McTominay and galloped ahead only to be fouled but no penalty. At the other end, a Man Utd free-kick caused havoc in the Everton defence but no clear chance. However, the swarming red shirts were being driven by a very frustrated home crowd, with the Everton fans singing happily.
But from hardly anything, Greenwood drove his shot clinically past Pickford to level the score. Goal stood after VAR. Everton were then really under the cosh, and it seemed inevitable that they would get another, but Everton revived a little and applied some pressure of their own.
Iwobi saw a chance and fired a tremendous shot that was very well saved by De Gea. Everton tried to use Kean but couldn't get the ball to him. However, Calvert-Lewinwas tripped, and Baines lined up a special from a long way out, driven high and wide.
Then, a bizarre moment as Ferguson subs on Niasse for Moise Kean, who had only been on for 18 minutes. Kean walked disconsolately down the touchline straight to the changing room, apparently failing to implement Ferguson's instructions, and perhaps the very last time we will see him in an Everton shirt?
Into 4 mins of added time and most of the pressure was coming from the home side, Pickford being called upon to stay alert. Everton got possession and attacked somewhat half-heartedly, looking to keep the point rather than secure all three, which was a pity, but understandable after a tremendous effort by the Blues.
Scorers: Greenwood (73'); Lindelof (og:32')
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Lingard (65' Greenwood); James (86' Mata), Martial, Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Tuanzebe, Williams, Young, Pereira.
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Mina, Digne (25' Baines); Bernard (70' Kean (88'Niasse)), Davies [Y:6'], Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison [Y:].
Subs: Stekelenburg, Martina, Gordon, Tosun.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Everton have more injury headaches as Duncan Ferguson prepares for his second match in charge with Sunday's trip to Old Trafford.
Ferguson inspired Everton to a stunning 3-1 triumph in his first game as caretaker boss and he is hoping for a positive result against Manchester United having been given at least the next game as interim manager.
The Blues are already without long-term absentees André Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, while Fabian Delph continues to battle a hamstring injury and Ferguson says he will have to do without both Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott for the remainder of the year.
Walcott had to be substituted towards the end of last Saturday's win over Chelsea along with Lucas Digne while Schneiderlin either aggravated an existing problem in that match or picked up a knock in training. That would leave Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson as the default midfield pair.
In defence, Digne is back in training and Ferguson is hopeful he can play despite picking up a groin strain last weekend but Leighton Baines is waiting in the wings should he be needed. Meanwhile, both Delph and Yerry Mina, who missed the last two games with a minor hamstring problem, are back doing light sessions but might not be risked this weekend.
Having roused an immense performance from the team against Chelsea in a backs-against-the-wall atmosphere at a raucous Goodison Park, Ferguson faces a difficult, more strategic challenge this time around against a rejuvenated Man Utd side who are coming off three impressive victories.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, another potential managerial casualty before his early-December revival, has overseen wins over Tottenham, Manchester City and AZ Alkmaar, the former two lifting the Red Devils into 5th place in the Premier League table, 7 points above Everton.
The Blues will therefore be facing a young, energetic team high on confidence which attacks at speed and efficiency and will therefore provide a stern test.
Ferguson will no doubt demand just as much commitment and intensity as last weekend but with 4-4-2 likely to be somewhat risky on the road against a form team, the Scot may opt for a more defensive 4-5-1 and ask his side to sit in more, keep it tight and look to hit United on the counter-attack.
As was the case at Leicester, a huge onus will be on the midfield duo and discipline at the back and the hope that enough ammunition can be provided to the attacking unit to score goals at the other end.
The way Ferguson spoke after the Chelsea game, it sounded as though he didn't expect to be in charge for this game but in many ways, it represents a “free hit” for him. Almost no one expects him to win so a defeat will, unless it's a particularly heavy one, probably won't move the needle much. But come away with a point or more and he will have provided the board further breathing room and, in all likelihood, a shot for himself to oversee the cup quarter-final against Leicester in midweek.
Ferguson maintains that he is not looking too far ahead and will continue to do what is asked of him while the club continues its search for a permanent replacement for Marco Silva.
“In the future, I'll look to progress to be a manager. I know I can do it in one game but it was only one game.
“I don't know what's happening behind the scenes but I've been told to take this game and I'll continue to do that (if asked).
"I don't want to get drawn into names but all [the] guys [mentioned] are fantastic managers so hopefully the club will find the right one. We want the best managers in the world managing this football club.”
Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday, 15 December 2019
Referee: Michael Oliver
Last Time: Manchester United 2 - 1 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Sidibé, Kean, Holgate, Baines, Davies, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin