United hold Real to 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital.
Manchester United are slight favourites to reach the Champions League quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid – a showdown watched by an estimated 200 million people worldwide.
Surprise starter Danny Welbeck gave Alex Ferguson’s side the lead at the Bernabeu before former Old Trafford star Cristiano Ronaldo levelled later in the first half.
In the night’s other last-16 tie, German champions Borussia Dortmund drew 2-2 at Shakhtar Donetsk in a game overshadowed by a horrifying plane crash at the Ukraine city’s airport which killed five fans.
In a match described by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho as the clash the “whole world was waiting for”, it was the home side who came close early on with United keeper David De Gea, playing in the city of his birth, pushing a Fabio Coentrao drive onto the post.
But it was United who snatched the lead after 20 minutes when England striker Welbeck shrugged off the attentions of Sergio Ramos to head in Wayne Rooney’s corner.
Real were level after half an hour with Ronaldo living up the huge pre-match hype by scoring against his former club.
Ronaldo out-jumped Patrice Evra to send a powerful header off an Angel Di Maria left-wing cross past De Gea.
The Portuguese star’s subdued celebrations reflected the warmth with which he still regards United where he spent six seasons.
De Gea, thriving in the city where he made his name with Atletico, was on hand again early in the second period to deny Di Maria before Japan’s Shinji Kagawa made way for veteran Ryan Giggs making his 150th European appearance.
Robin van Persie than saw a shot saved by Diego Lopez with the ball coming back off the crossbar while, moments later, the Dutchman miscued a close range effort which was cleared off the line by Xabi Alonso.
In Donetsk, five fans of the Ukraine team, who had flown in for the match, were killed when their Antonov AN-24 plane, arriving from Odessa, was forced into an emergency landing.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off at the Donbass Arena.
Dortmund, the 1997 European champions, almost snatched an early lead when Mats Hummels headed against the crossbar from a corner.
But it was Shakhtar who took a 30th-minute lead when a Darijo Srna free-kick evaded the Dortmund defence before beating goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
The German champions were level four minutes before the interval when Robert Lewandowski found the target after being set-up by Mario Goetze.
Shakhtar regained the lead after 68 minutes when substitute Douglas Costa scored with a left-foot drive but Dortmund finished on top and Hummels levelled for 2-2 with three minutes left.