Substitute Sergio Aguero cruelly denied the Blades a deserved share of spoils, as United more than matched the Premier League champions for a second time this season.
The Argentinian striker netted the only goal of the game late in the second-half, after Dean Henderson had thwarted City on numerous occasions, including saving a Gabriel Jesus penalty before the break.
For the clash against Pep Guardiola's side, boss Wilder made two changes, with Sharp and Bešić were handed starts, with Mousset and Lundstram dropping to the bench.
City enjoyed plenty of early possession, it but was United who created the first chance. McBurnie's neat pass found the run of Sharp, but as he attempted to square it to an advancing Fleck, Fernandinho got a vital touch on the ball to divert it back to Ederson. The visitors broke at pace, but thankfully for the Blades, O'Connell made a crunching challenge on De Bruyne to avert the danger at the expense of a corner that came to nothing.
Bešić received an early caution for a challenge on Laporte. But in the 20th minute, United suffered a first major scare, courtesy of Henderson's brilliance. Basham's mistake was seized upon by Sterling, he advanced at pace before combining with Mahrez, but United's number one produced an excellent reflex save with his right hand.
Following a United corner, Norwood was booked for halting Sterling, after miscuing a pass. Moments later, Henderson was called into action again to deny Otamendi with an acrobatic effort, after Fernandinho had recycled a short corner. McBurnie's persistence won a corner, before Egan and Laporte had a disagreement following a challenge on Ederson.
On 35 minutes, City broke into United's area and Basham was adjudged to have halted Mahrez's mazy run unfairly, but from the resulting spot-kick, Henderson stood tall and guessed the right way to palm Jesus's penalty, before claiming the rebound to the delight of three sides of the Lane.
As half-time approached, Fleck was booked for his first foul of the night on Fernandinho, who had already got away with a few similar offences. De Bruyne fired an effort wide, but the Blades safely got through to the break on level terms, not before the City skipper was yellow carded for another foul on McBurnie.
United were more than holding their own in the opening exchanges of the second period and Rodrigo was booked for a cynical foul on Fleck, after the Scotsman had got the better of him and Walker on the break. Two corners in quick succession followed, but from the second referee Mason spotted a foul on Ederson to halt United's momentum.
As the hour mark approached, Rodrigo headed inches wide from De Bruyne's corner, before Sharp received a standing ovation for his efforts as he was replaced by Mousset. City were now beginning to hit their stride again, but from a Jesus header, Henderson was once again ideally positioned to save. At the other end, McBurnie, Baldock and Basham combined and Ederson failed to gather cleaning but from Mousset's audacious back heel the goalkeeper collected.
On 72 minutes, United produced the move of the game, containing over a dozen passes, but from a low cross from Stevens, McBurnie couldn't direct the ball on target with Ederson beaten. And in the cruellest possible fashion, City went down the other end and opened the scoring, as AGUERO tapped home after De Bruyne's defence splitting pass had created the simplest of chances out of nothing.
Basham and Bešić were withdrawn as Robinson and Lundstram were introduced from the bench. Aguero was booked for kicking the ball away, then McBurnie saw yellow for dissent. Sterling found space in the second phase following a corner, but his effort went just wide of Henderson's near post.
Four minutes of added time were signal and Baldock was fit to continue following a clash with Egan as they tried to stop Mahrez, but City saw out the remaining moments despite United's best endeavours to earn a deserved point.
Blades: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham (Robinson 78), Bešić (Lundstram 78), McBurnie, Sharp (Mousset 59), Egan, Norwood.
Unused: Jagielka, K. Freeman, Verrips, Osborn.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Laporte (Garcia 78), Rodrigo, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, G Jesus (Aguero 67).
Unused: Bravo, Gundogan, Bernardo, Cancelo, Foden.
As it happened...
Almost a disaster then for McBurnie when his well-timed challenge sees the ball divert towards Jesus, but the strike slips otherwise he could have been through! 0-0.
First break from United as McBurnie holds up the ball and finds Baldock who surges into the City half. His pass wasn't read by Besic and it rolls out for a throw, but the Blades looked to attack with purpose. 0-0.
Good link up play between McBurnie and Sharp sees the latter upended by Fernandinho who escapes a booking. 0-0.
Blades breakthrough down the right as Sharp latches onto a neat pass by McBurnie, but as he looks for Fleck with a low cross, it takes a deflection and rolls into the hands of Ederson.
Reckless challenge by Besic on Laporte and it is a yellow.
Late challenge by Walker on O'Connell brings a free-kick to United.
From the resulting free-kick, Sharp does well to hold up the ball. He feeds it wide to Stevens who sees his low cross cut out. 0-0.
Huge chance for City.
Basham's mistake allows a swift counter as Sterling and Mahrez combine. The latter's low cross finds Sterling who looks certain to score but Henderson makes a brilliant save from point blank range. 0-0.
City threaten another counter, this time it is Jesus who advances but the danger is snuffed out by a brilliant challenge by Egan. 0-0.
Norwood attempts a killer through ball looking for Baldock, but the pass is too close to Ederson. 0-0.
Norwood into the book after he chopped down Sterling as City threatened to break clear.
Another great save from Henderson.
This time a deflected cross is put into a dangerous area by Fernandinho and Otamendi's effort is saved by the legs of the United 'keeper. 0-0.
Sterling's effort from the edge of the area sails over. 0-0.
Norwood whips in a dangerous corner and as Egan comes around the back to attempt the header, the ref blows for a foul on Ederson. 0-0.
Mahrez goes down under a challenge from Basham and it is a penalty.
Jesus steps and strikes it to Henderson's right, but he's across and he saves it!!!!!!
United now on the attack as a dangerous Norwood free-kick is turned behind by Otamendi.
Norwood's corner is dangerous again, but City head clear. 0-0.
Fernandinho caught late by Fleck and it is another yellow.
One minute added
Fernandinho into the book for persistent fouling.
Blades 0 - 0 Manchester City
Level at the break with Henderson saving Jesus' penalty to maintain parity.
The teams are back out as we prepare for the second half.
We're back underway...
Early corner for City as Basham heads behind.
De Bruyne's deep delivery is headed into the six-yard area but Egan is there to make a vital clearance. 0-0.
Free-kick City as Stevens foulds Sterling.
Mahrez's effort is drilled straight into United's wall. 0-0.
Basham upends Jesus on the angle of the area, but the delivery is headed clear as United hold firm. 0-0.
Yellow for Rodrigo as he holds Fleck back after the Scotsman breaks clear.
Two corners from United have City on the back foot but again the latter from Fleck sees the referee blow for a foul on Ederson.
Corner from City into the near post and Rodrigo's header falls inches wide of the far post. 0-0.
First change for United as Sharp is replaced by Lys Mousset.
Jesus peels off the back of Basham to win a cross from the right but his downward header is held by Henderson.
Chance for the Blades!
McBurnie into Basham who strikes across goal, the ball is deflected out towards Mousset who attempts a back-heel which is straight at Ederson. 0-0.
Through ball into the right channel frees Sterling but from a tight angle he slams his effort over the bar. 0-0.
First change for City as Jesus is replaced by Sergio Aguero.
What a move!
Blades with some terrific interplay from the half-way line into the final third but from the low cross by Stevens, McBurnie can only get a toe on it at full stretch and it goes wide. 0-0.
Goal for City.
Just when United looked like scoring at one end, City score at the other. Low cross from De Bruyne is tapped in by Aguero.
Change for City as Laporte is replaced by Eric Garcia
Double change for United as Basham and Besic are replaced by Robinson and Lundstram.
Aguero booked for kicking the ball away
McBurnie into the book now for dissent.
Dancing feet by Sterling as he waltzes into the area, and after a little one-two, he fires an effort wide of the near post.
Sweeping City counter attack is halted by a wonderful block by O'Connell as Sterling takes aim.
United open now as they pour forward, another City counter is rebuffed as Egan makes a last ditch challenge on Mahrez.
Four added minutes
Substitution for City. Sterling is replaced by Bernardo Silva.
Rodrigo smashes a shot just wide.
Blades 0 - 1 Manchester City
Another big effort from the Blades, but Chris Wilder's side are denied by a second-half strike by sub Sergio Aguero.