After the long wait to break Manchester United's scoring record, Wayne Rooney ensured the landmark 250th goal was still dramatic.
The United captain bent in a free kick in stoppage time at Stoke to salvage a 1-1 draw on Saturday in the Premier League and move clear of Bobby Charlton at the top of the club's all-time scoring leaderboard.
Rooney and United had looked set to return home frustrated, with the forward watching from the bench.
Jose Mourinho deployed the forward in the 67th minute but there appeared to be no way past well-drilled Stoke, with last-ditch defending, fine goalkeeping from Lee Grant and wayward finishing putting United's 16-match unbeaten run in all competitions in jeopardy.
It was a thrilling end to a match that looked to be going Stoke's way after such a sloppy start by United.
A long kick was flicked on by Peter Crouch and Stoke attacked down the left, with Marko Arnautovic's lay-off finding Erik Pieters to hit a fizzing cross that deflected off Juan Mata and past goalkeeper David de Gea.
Mata wasted a gilt-edged chance to atone for Stoke's opener. United midfielder Paul Pogba played a lovely clipped ball over the hosts' backline to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, only for his weighted cross to somehow be scooped over by Mata at the far post.
United was at that stage in the ascendancy and pushed hard for a first-half equalizer, only to be denied by Grant. He comfortably dealt with a header from Marouane Fellaini and then tipped over the Belgian's volley.
A strong one-handed reaction save denied Pogba from the resulting corner as the first half ended with Stoke being ahead without getting a single shot on target.
A more assertive United emerged after the break but it was Crouch, searching for his 100th Premier League goal, who was first to threaten, aiming an audacious volley wide.
Marcus Rashford was brought on for Fellaini in a bid to add extra bite to a United side which saw penalty appeals waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg after Mata's strike ricocheted off Pieters' arm.
Tempers were beginning to fray as Stoke continued to frustrate United, with Xherdan Shaqiri bringing a first save out of De Gea with a speculative effort on a rare voyage forward in the 65th minute.
Rooney was the next roll of the dice as he came on in place of the unusually poor Mata, but Stoke was continuing to frustrate the visitors.
Pogba had a shot blocked and Rashford bent a chance just wide, with the former then fizzing a shot flew just wide of Grant's goal.
Rooney attempted a close-range header as the United onslaught continued, while handball appeals against Ryan Shawcross were ignored.
Substitute Jesse Lingard rattled the crossbar in the closing moments as the 2,557 visiting fans looked set to go home disappointed.
Rooney had other ideas, though.
Taking aim from an acute angle on the left, he impressively directed home to the unbridled joy of team-mates and fans.