United were looking for a response after their home drubbing at the hands of title rivals Liverpool last time out, but suffered rare back-to-back Premier League defeats with Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney seeing red in either half.
Chelsea missed the chance to move within a point of the league leaders as they were undone by Tottenham in a thrilling London derby at White Hart Lane, seriously denting their title hopes.
Newcastle slipped into the drop zone after a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal who have opened up a three-point lead in the battle for the final UEFA Champions League berth.
Stoke climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a vital victory which pushes struggling Middlesbrough ever closer to the drop, while Portsmouth dented Everton's UEFA Champions League hopes and climbed away from the bottom three.
West Brom hit back from 1-0 down against Bolton but could only garner a point which leaves them sliding ever closer to the Championship, while Blackburn and West Ham shared the spoils at Ewood Park.
Red rage for Red DevilsManchester United were reduced to nine men as Fulham blew the title race wide open with a 2-0 success over the Premier League and European champions.
Scholes was dismissed in just the 18th minute as he threw his hands up to keep out Bobby Zamora's close-range header and Danny Murphy stepped up to find the top corner of the net from the spot, sending Edwin van der Sar the wrong way.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, United were all over Fulham in the second period and were only denied by a string of fine saves from Mark Schwarzer.
The veteran Australia international produced a stunning double-save midway through the second half as he denied Park Ji-sung before blocked Rooney's follow-up with his legs when the England ace looked certain to score.
Roy Hodgson's men weathered the storm and grabbed a second on the break with time running out as Zoltan Gera played a one-two with Andy Johnson before flicking the ball up for himself and despatching an acrobatic volley beyond Van der Sar.
Moments later Rooney, who had been introduced at the interval, became the second United player to receive his marching orders, being somewhat harshly booked for a second time for throwing the ball away and leaving the field in an absolute fury.
Tottenham secured only their second Premier League victory over Chelsea in 34 attempts as Guus Hiddink suffered his first defeat since taking over the Blues.
Kick off was delayed by 30 minutes after a suspicious package was found in the vicinity of White Hart Lane.
Luke Modric fired Spurs into the lead early in the second half as he produced an excellent low finish from the edge of the box after Aaron Lennon's clever low cut-back from the right wing as he shaped to cross.
Heurelho Gomes produced a brilliant save to keep out John Terry's flicked header before Didier Drogba nodded wide from a Terry cross soon after.
Nicolas Anelka was denied by Gomes in the closing stages with Alex's header from the resulting corner striking the bar but bouncing to safety.
Stoke used a familiar route to gain a vital victory over Middlesbrough with Ryan Shawcross nodding home a long throw from Rory Delap.
In a match lacking in quality from either side, Shawcross' crucial contribution six minutes from time lifted Tony Pulis' side out of the drop zone and left Boro in the mire.
Toon miseryArsenal strengthened their grip on fourth place and left Newcastle languishing in the Premier League drop zone.
Obafemi Martins missed a glorious chance to open the scoring when his weak penalty was easily saved by Manuel Almunia after the Gunners goalkeeper had felled Ryan Taylor.
Arsenal went ahead through Nicklas Bendtner's excellent header from a free-kick out on the left, only for Martins to immediately respond with a clever finish after William Gallas missed two opportunities to clear.
With the Magpies down to 10 men as Steven Taylor received treatment off the field, Abou Diaby played a one-two with Robin van Persie and burst through the middle before burying the ball beyond Steve Harper.
And moments later the game was safe as Samir Nasri was played in by Van Persie to fire a low shot under Harper at his near post.
West Brom were forced to settle for a point against Bolton with time now running out for Tony Mowbray's rock-bottom side.
Former Baggies boss Gary Megson saw his side go ahead in the 67th minute when Jussi Jaaskelainen's long free-kick into the West Brom box was weakly headed away by Jonas Olsson and Matt Taylor calmly volleyed home from the edge of the area.
The Hawthorns was briefly silenced, but the home side continued to battle and restored parity when Robert Koren cut in from the right and fired in a curling shot which took a deflection off Danny Shittu's thigh to leave Jaaskelainen with no chance.
Peter Crouch headed home a priceless double as Portsmouth edged away from the relegation zone with a vital victory over Everton.
Leighton Baines fired the visitors in front with a superb free-kick after just four minutes as Pompey made a dismal start in front of the Fratton Park faithful.
But England international Crouch brought his side back on terms in the 22nd minute as David Moyes' men failed to deal with a contentious corner.
And the former Liverpool striker was on hand once again 15 minutes from time to convert Sean Davis' corner to dent David Moyes' hopes of guiding the Toffees into the UEFA Champions League.
Blackburn remain in the relegation dogfight despite becoming tough to beat under Sam Allardyce as they drew 1-1 at home to West Ham.
Mark Noble fired the Hammers in front as he produced a delightful finish with the outside of his right foot, putting the finishing touch to a slick passing move he had started which involved Luis Boa Morte and Diego Tristan.
But the home side were back on terms early in the second half when Morten Gamst Pedersen's long throw caused problems in the Hammers defence and half-time substitute Keith Andrews arrived to drill a low shot through a crowded box and into the bottom corner.