The hosts, who gave Bastian Schweinsteiger a full debut, dominated the early stages and Wayne Rooney saw a goal ruled out for a tight offside, but Newcastle went close when Aleksandar Mitrovic headed against the bar.
Louis van Gaal’s side laid siege to the Newcastle goal in the second half, Tim Krul saving from substitute Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling heading against the post, but Newcastle debutant Florian Thauvin was inches away from toeing in a late winner at the other end.
“We can be satisfied with the performance, but not with the result. We were unlucky,” said United manager Van Gaal, whose side have scored only two goals in their three league games to date.
“We did not make the right choices in the final third, but we played fantastic as a team. I like these kind of games when we work like this, but not this result.
“The performance was one of the best in my period, but we don’t reward ourselves. There was only one club that wanted to win and that was us.”
United had won their opening two league games 1-0, against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, before beating Club Brugge 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League play-off in mid-week.
But they were let down by both their final ball and their finishing against Steve McClaren’s Newcastle, leaving captain Rooney without a goal in his last 10 club games.
After Rooney had seen his goal disallowed, Krul saved from Memphis Depay, Rooney and Juan Mata, before Mitrovic, making his full debut, outjumped Matteo Darmian and headed Chancel Mbemba’s deep cross against the bar.
Van Gaal introduced Michael Carrick, Hernandez and Antonio Valencia in the second half and Krul had to save from Luke Shaw before spreading himself brilliantly to block a close-range effort from Hernandez.
A stoppage-time flurry saw Smalling hit the post and substitute Thauvin narrowly fail to make contact with Papiss Cisse’s low cross, while Carrick saw a deflected shot flash narrowly wide.
The point provisionally took United top of the table, but Leicester City will replace them if they avoid defeat at home to Tottenham later on Saturday.
Manchester City, who have also won their first two games, visit Everton on Sunday, while champions Chelsea, beaten 3-1 at City last weekend, travel to West Bromwich Albion.
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