While City appear to be on the up, despite some poor away results, Tottenham, who have managed a meager nine goals in 12 league games, have slipped to ninth.
After their worst start to a Premier League season, David Moyes’ United have begun to climb the table and looked to continue their improvement in the Welsh capital.
Rooney, who was lucky to stay on the pitch after tangling with Mutch early on, fired them ahead after 15 minutes following a sharp turn.
Cardiff equalized through former United striker Fraizer Campbell after a flowing move and were matching the champions all over the pitch until Evra headed in Rooney’s corner on the stroke of halftime.
In a thrilling finale, Kim headed Cardiff level in stoppage-time, only for Rooney to then waste a glorious chance to snatch victory for United at the other end.
“It was disappointing not to take all three points,” Moyes said.
Despite television evidence to the contrary, he and Cardiff counterpart Malky Mackay agreed Rooney did not deserve to be sent off.
“That was not a lash out in any way,” Moyes said. “It was about feeling hard done by with the boy running across his path.”