Manchester United earned a fine draw at Real Madrid as Danny Welbeck’s header was cancelled out by Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital.
The England striker peeled off Sergio Ramos to head the visitors into the lead, but his Portuguese opponent rose above Patrice Evra ten minutes later to level the scores.
Sir Alex Ferguson named Phil Jones in midfield and an attacking trio of Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, but it was goalkeeper David De Gea who was ultimately the main man for the Red Devils at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He made a stunning save early in proceedings; tipping Fabio Coentrao’s swerving shot onto the inside of the post and away to safety. The former Atletico Madrid man would make a number of other fine saves throughout the match, but his first was the best.
Manchester United were lucky to win a corner on 20 minutes, but a perfect ball from Rooney found Welbeck on the edge of the six-yard box, and his firm header gave the keeper no chance.
But, ten minutes later former United star Ronaldo showed his quality, towering above Evra at the far post to head home Angel Di Maria’s perfect cross.
The game was perfectly poised, but neither side were able to take advantage of some good chances, with the best falling to Van Persie.
The Dutchman had a drive tipped onto the bar by keeper Diego Lopez on 72 minutes, and seconds later mishit a volley from eight yards when one-on-one. Xabi Alonso scrambled back to clear off the line.
At the other end, Ronaldo went close with a free-kick and a low ball was scrambled clear by Jones in the final stages, but it was Van Persie again on the whistle who went closest, with his low drive across goal pushed away.
The second leg takes place at Old Trafford in three weeks, and Jose Mourinho’s side must score to have a chance of progressing.