Ex-United captain Steve Bruce's side got off to a hot start on home turf and preyed on poor defending to go two ahead with 13 minutes on the clock courtesy of former United trainee James Chester's first Premier League goal and David Meyler's instinctive finish.
Chris Smalling was able to head home a set piece from Rooney six minutes later to keep United's heads up before a superb drive from Wayne Rooney dipped into the top corner to pull it level once more on 26.
Despite the hosts continuing to match the Premier League champions up and down the pitch, it was an unfortunate and ironic own goal from Chester which sealed the contest.
United were able to weather a late Hull bombardment after Antonio Valencia needlessly picked up a second yellow card in the closing stages and David Moyes' men are now up to sixth in the table, within reach of the title-chasing pack of five pending the later Boxing Day results.
They are also the first top-flight side to win having been two-goals down in a Boxing Day match since West Ham’s 4-2 Division One win at Chelsea on December 26th 1973.
4’ GOAL HULL! What a start for Steve Bruce against his old club! And speaking of ex-players haunting United, it's James Chester with the opener as Bruce's son Alex heads a corner across goal for a good volley finish from close range into the roof of the net. 1-0!
13’ GOOOOOAAAAL! It's 2-0 Hull! Poor from United at the back as Sagbo is allowed to keep an errant final ball alive before a fatal mis-clearance from Evans allows Meyler to lash home on instinct from close range!
18’ SUBSTITUTION: Rafael has a groin pull and is replaced by Adnan Januzaj, in an attacking switch. Needed, too.
19’ GOAL! United have one back! Smalling leaves the roughed-up McGregor stranded with a header from Rooney's free-kick from the right. Just the quick response United needed. 2-1!
26’ GOOOOAAAAALLL! It's 2-2! Welbeck tees up Rooney to let rip from more than 25 out, and he nails a trademark distance wonderful, dipping into the top corner! It's level and Boxing Day so far has been a cracker!
64’ OFF THE WOODWORK! Corner is headed towards goal by Bruce and it's off the United angle and back out! Cleared with an overhead kick, just to add to the drama...
66’ GOAL UNITED! From two down they are ahead! Chester heads a cross from the right into his own net having put Hull ahead with the opener. What a turn of fortunes. 2-3!
90’ RED CARD! Valencia picks up a silly second yellow right at the death after tripping Huddlestone. With Hull pressing hard for a leveller, that's a poor lack of discipline.
90+2’ ALMOST A LEVELLER! Boyd picks out Graham with a superb ball into the box, good first touch from the stiker... De Gea with a vital block!
United have conceded two or more goals in five consecutive top flight matches away at newly-promoted sides for first time since March 1960 to April 1962.
Only Thierry Henry (175) has scored more PL goals for a single side than Rooney’s 150 for Man Utd.
James Chester becomes the third PL player this season to score a goal & an own goal in the same match, after Phil Bardsley and Vincent Kompany. All three happened in December.
26 minutes is the quickest that four goals have been scored in a Barclays Premier League match played on Boxing Day – the previous best also involved Hull playing a Manchester side, when Man City went 4-0 up against Hull in the 36th minute on this day in 2008.
Has a five-horse race just become… six? Alright, so the minute a team has a bit of a return to form we all suddenly find ourselves speculating, but with United it’s always possible, regardless of manager. Last season they cruised to the title with average performances, so with them bearing down on the five teams battling for a comfortable lead – even pending other Boxing Day results – it’s just impossible not to consider the champions getting more heavily involved in their title defence than many would have thought just a fortnight ago.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Alex Bruce, Hull – Daddy’s boy came good and was one of several Hull players unfortunate not to be on the winning side. A hand in the opening goal, a string of excellent challenges and he almost got on the scoresheet himself. Bruce Jr also played through the closing stages despite bloodying himself on a face-first collision with the upright.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Rafael 5, Evra 7, Evans 5, Smalling 7, Fletcher 6, Cleverley 7, Valencia 5, Young 6, Welbeck 6, Rooney 8. Subs: Carrick n/a, Januzaj 8, Hernandez 6.
Hull City: McGregor 7, Bruce 9, Chester 7, Davies 7, Elmohamady 7, Figueroa 5, Meyler 7, Huddlestone 8, Livermore 6, Graham 5, Sagbo 6. Subs: Harper 6, Koren 6, Boyd 6.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET