Captain Steven Gerrard scored on his first start in seven months, but Man United equalised through Javier Hernandez to share the points at Anfield on Saturday.
Gerrard’s free-kick on 68 minutes went through the United wall after Rio Ferdinand had brought down Charlie Adam on the edge of the box.
United’s equaliser was also from a set-piece, with Hernandez losing his marker to head in from inside the area off a corner.
Kenny Dalglish had opted to play a fluid 4-5-1 formation, with Luis Suarez up front and Steven Gerrard on the right of midfield with Dirk Kuyt supporting Suarez when in possession.
United meanwhile threw a surprise by not including Rooney, Hernandez or Nani – all three would come on with the score 1-0 and change the style of the away team’s play. Instead Danny Welbeck started up front on his own.
The first half was a scrappy affair, with few chances – although Liverpool did create more than United who failed to get a shot on target and showed little attacking endevour, seemingly happy to stifle Liverpool and look to bring on their attacking trio later in the game.
The best chance of the first half fell to Luis Suarez but he stretched for his shot and hit it straight at David De Gea.
Martin Skrtel blazed over from a corner and Henderson had a chance to win it with a header in the last minute. Before that Dirk Kuyt slid in but his shot from a Downing cross was again too close to De Gea.
Points shared but the home side where much the better for long periods.
Jose Enrique was an impressive performer for the Reds, as was fellow full back Martin Kelly. But captain Gerrard was the man of the match – it’s good to have him back.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Lucas (Henderson 57), Adam, Kuyt, Gerrard, Downing, Suarez.