Ten-man Crystal Palace put a dent in Manchester United's title hopes as they bravely held out for a crucial point.
Vassilis Lakis was sent off for two bookable offences after 63 minutes, but a lacklustre United failed to carve out a winner at Selhurst Park.
Palace keeper Gabor Kiraly saved well from Ruud van Nistelrooy either side of the interval, and the Dutchman also wasted two great chances late on.
Substitute Wayne Rooney was also denied by Kiraly as Palace somehow held on.
United left Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, clearly with Tuesday's Champions League second leg against AC Milan in Italy in mind.
And their absence showed in a low-key United performance in a first 45 minutes virtually devoid of serious goalmouth action.
Quinton Fortune had a header saved by Kiraly, then set up van Nistelrooy in similar fashion, but once again Palace's Hungarian keeper was equal to the task with a one-handed save.
There was one moment of controversy when United captain Roy Keane was ruled offside after a free-kick, a decision which clearly infuriated manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who raced to the touchline to remonstrate with the officials.
Palace continued to frustrate United, and it was no surprise when they made a double substitution after 58 minutes, sending on Scholes and Ronaldo for Fortune and Phil Neville.
Van Nistelrooy responded by almost breaking the deadlock two minutes later, with a low drive that was again well saved by Kiraly.
Palace were then reduced to 10 men after 63 minutes when Lakis, who had earlier been booked for a trip on Ryan Giggs, was guilty of a similar offence and was shown the red card by referee Mark Clattenburg.
Ferguson played his final card with 18 minutes left, sending on Rooney for the subdued Alan Smith.
Rooney almost created an instant opening as he appealed for a penalty, but his claims were waved away.
Van Nistelrooy then wasted a glorious chance to put United ahead, shooting straight at Kiraly from 10 yards when totally unmarked.
And as time ran out, Van Nistelrooy was the culprit again, missing from inside the six-yard box after Wes Brown flicked on Rio Ferdinand's cross.
Rooney gave Palace their final scare, breaking through and seeing his shot blocked by Kiraly, with Giggs turning the rebound over the bar.
Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie:
"It was a big performance against the best attacking side in the division. It's an important result.
"In the end they had all their big hitters out. I don't think they created a plethora of chances and I don't think we were hanging on.
"You don't have to question these lads because they give you their utmost."
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
"We've given ourselves a real mountain to climb. It's a bad result when you are going for the title.
"We have given Chelsea a great advantage. If you don't take chances this is what happens.
"Palace's keeper Gabor Kiraly made some fantastic saves, but it is always difficult to find a way through."
Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Boyce, Hall, Sorondo, Granville, Routledge (Borrowdale 65), Leigertwood, Hughes, Soares, Lakis, Johnson.
Subs Not Used: Speroni, Freedman, Torghelle, Kolkka.
Sent Off: Lakis (64).
Booked: Hughes, Soares, Sorondo, Lakis, Kiraly.
Man Utd: Howard, Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze, Fortune (Scholes 56), Phil Neville (Ronaldo 56), Keane, Giggs, Smith (Rooney 73), van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, O'Shea.
Booked: Giggs, Rooney, Ferdinand, Heinze.
Ref: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).