Premier League - Ten-man United resist Tottenham
Manchester United maintained their unbeaten Premier League record and went top with a goalless draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side produced a stout defensive performance, and made light of the dismissal of Rafael for a second bookable offence.
Despite enjoying the better of play, Tottenham could not break down a side marshalled by the exceptional Nemanja Vidic.
They have not beaten United since May 2001, when with two of the goals in a 3-1 win came from one Willem Korsten.
Wayne Rooney came back into the side, having missed United's FA Cup game against Liverpool, while Ryan Giggs made his 600th league appearance for the club.
Harry Redknapp chose not to restore Jermain Defoe after suspension, opting to play Peter Crouch as a lone striker.
Spurs made a barnstorming start, aided by the visitors who passed the opening kick-off straight to Bale, who sprinted down the left and delivered a cross caught by the commanding Edwin van der Sar.
United replied immediately as Dimitar Berbatov released Wayne Rooney, who rode a William Gallas challenge but dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post.
Gallas's tackle was mistimed, and had Rooney chosen to make more of it, he might have won a penalty.
Rooney later tested Heurelho Gomes twice with 25-yard shots, the second bringing an excellent save from the goalkeeper, but otherwise Rooney played very much in keeping with the rest of this season's disappointing performances.
He was booked for dissent after Rafael's sending-off, and cut a frustrated figure throughout.
While Bale oozed menace down the Tottenham left, the home team's best chance of the first half came after a cross from the other flank.
Alan Hutton's superb delivery found Crouch eight yards out, who beat Rio Ferdinand to the ball but stabbed it just wide of the right-hand post.
The danger continued, with Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart exuding craft and imagination missing from the visitors' midfield.
Giggs and Nani were both subdued, while Michael Carrick appears a player, like Rooney, for whom a dip in form threatens to become terminal decline.
Certainly, Spurs fans will consider the £50 million they received for Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov sensational business considering they spent less than half that amount on Modric and Van der Vaart.
The second half brought few clear-cut chances, as Spurs toiled to find space on a crowded pitch.
On 74 minutes Rafael received his marching orders and protested furiously after his second booking following an apparently innocuous tangle of legs with Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
A dreadful lay-off in his own box by substitute Javier Hernandez teed up Van der Vaart 10 minutes from time, but the Dutchman blazed his shot agonisingly over.
Tottenham can take pride from their ability to stand toe-to-toe with the best, but they would rather have three points.
United have drawn eight of their 10 away games this season, but will be content to take a single point from this game. They top the table on goal difference but have two games in hand on their neighbours Manchester City.