London - Manchester United scored twice in the last nine minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday just when they looked to be heading for their first Premier League defeat of the season.
Substitute Federico Macheda and defender Nemanja Vidic produced the goals which stretched United's run to 26 matches in all competitions since they last lost in April, their best run for 11 years.
But those statistics disguise a worrying performance for United who have now drawn six of their seven away league matches and did not show the form of potential champions.
After a poor first half devoid of any real entertainment, a youthful Villa side went ahead when Ashley Young fired in a penalty in the 72nd minute after being fouled by Wes Brown.
Marc Albrighton doubled their lead with 14 minutes left when he finished off a superb counter-attacking move, slamming the ball high into the net from six metres after a perfectly weighted cross from Stewart Downing.
Villa deserved to be ahead, with the goals coming just after James Collins headed against the bar and Gabriel Agbonlahor struck the post from close range.
However United never know when they are beaten, and despite rarely playing well, they clawed their way back when Macheda powered the ball in from 20 metres after 81 minutes to revive hopes of maintaining their unbeaten run.
They did just that four minutes later when Nani jinked his way into space before crossing for Vidic who saved the point with a stooping header at the far post.
United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports News: "We could have lost six goals in the second half, they had some great chances and we were all over the place.
"Great credit to Aston Villa, they never allowed us any time to settle on the ball. They hit us on the counter-attack time and time again."
Villa manager Gerard Houllier said: "If someone had said before the game that we would have drawn with Manchester United taking into account the number of kids we had in the team we'd have taken that result.
"But when you see the second half, we think we should have won because we hit the bar and the post and had some other great chances. But it is Manchester United and even at 2-0 you are never safe."
Although they avoided defeat United remained second, three points behind Chelsea having played one more match. The Londoners can stretch their lead to six points if they beat Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Seven other matches were taking place later on Saturday.