A riveting first-half preceded a reticent second-half as Manchester United held Real Madrid to a 1-1 scoreline with a stout European away performance.

Here are five things learned from the round-of-16's glamour tie...

ROONEY THE EUROPEAN EXPENDABLE
When Cristiano Ronaldo was at Manchester United Wayne Rooney's name was still inked on the teamsheet ahead of the Portuguese. A flexible forward who became the sacrificial lamb in European matches, Rooney accommodated Ronaldo's maturity to Champions League-winning effect in 2008 and to another final the following year. However the arrivals of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie now put his place at jeopardy in these games, and he picked the worst possible time to give one of his worst performances in a red shirt.

Most acknowledge Rooney won't emerge into the player those at Everton hoped and expected a decade ago but his footballing brain is still as sharp as a pin. But in the Bernabéu it was blunt. Returning to a stadium which hosted one of his lowest ebbs with England in 2004, his inability to control or pass was worrying especially when his form has been good of late.

wayne rooney

Rooney was woeful for United

With United holding a slight advantage and the Old Trafford factor potentially decisive in the return leg, Sir Alex Ferguson will likely retain Rooney with the intention of playing more adventurously. However the self-proclaimed "big man" is in danger of becoming small.

MADRID MISSED PEPE PRESENCE
Ferguson could be forgiven for a critique of the referee after he neglected to book a single Real player and failed to sent off defender Raphaël Varane after he tripped up Patrice Evra. Varane, excellent against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey Clásico two weeks ago, looked daunted and unsettled by the speed of Danny Welbeck and the craft of Robin van Persie than the threat of Lionel Messi.

raphael varane

Varane was fortunate not to be sent off

Pepe, not risked as he continues to recover from an ankle problem, nevertheless remains one of Mourinho's trusted troops who is as composed as he is cunning. Sergio Ramos took over the latter skill with some feigned agony to get Van Persie and Valencia booked but he looked bereft without his preferred partner whenever United ventured into Madrid's third.

Varane, although an excellent back up, should probably be sat on the bench in three weeks' time. He'd be lucky to have that privilege thanks to the myopic referee.

UNITED ESCAPE DESPITE POOR POSSESSION PLAY
Ferguson hasn't signed a central midfielder since 2007 and although he can get away with such negligence in the regressive Premier League, the Champions League offers what he called an "acid test" and to an extent, his midfield didn't pass it.

With ball retention and pressing an increasingly indispensable quality in European football, United failed on both counts again as they revisited the long ball tactics of the 2009 Rome final. In Madrid they relied on the bulldog spirit of Michael Carrick and, in particular, Phil Jones. The latter resembled an England international in one of those quarter-finals which ends in a glorious failure, only his intervention at the death prevented Ronaldo from scoring what would almost certainly have been the winner.

phil jones

Jones was tireless in midfield for United

"The disappointment for me was that we sat back too often," Ferguson reflected on the period after United took the lead. What they lacked in imagination they made up for with industry.

HIGUAÍN MAY HAVE EARNED OLD TRAFFORD START
Karim Benzema is a better footballer and striker than Gonzalo Higuaín and the constant rotation of the duo may continue at Old Trafford. Benzema struggled against Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as he became one-dimensional despite Ronaldo and Angel di María encouraging variety up front. Higuaín's adroit movement meanwhile almost culminated in a goal for Fabio Coentrão, as he worked United's defence more in half the time than Benzema had.

WELBECK JUSTIFIES INCLUSION
Selected due to his gamely work-rate and cover for Patrice Evra, it was ironic Danny Welbeck ended a drought of nearly four months to open the scoring. His movement to lose a two-time European Championship and World Cup winner in Ramos belied his lack of composure in the final third this season, but it was what followed afterwards which would have pleased the long-legged Longsight forward's manager.

danny welbeck

Following in the footsteps of Taylor, Foulkes, Sadler and Van Nistelrooy

With long balls into the channels tailored for Welbeck's pace, he rarely let his teammates down and on the rare occasion United had possession behind Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira Madrid looked genuinely fearful when Welbeck bore down on them. Time will tell whether the match was a seminal moment for the 22-year-old, as he became only the fifth United player to score away at Real Madrid.

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Real Madrid embraces Sir Alex Ferguson

    MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 13: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Real Madrid embraces Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 13, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Robin van Persie has his shot tipped onto the bar by Real Madrid goalkeeper Rodriguez Diego Lopez (left) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Rafael, right, challenges Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil from Germany, left, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, right, challenges Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa, left, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal gestures during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Real Madrid manager José Mourinho after the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Real Madrid manager José Mourinho after the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Robin van Persie (left) and Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Robin van Persie and Ryan Giggs, from right, applaud spectators at the end of the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Patrice Evra (left) and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho watches the action during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Jonny Evans (left) and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • FBL-EUR-C1-REALMADRID-MANUTD

    Manchester United's striker Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match Real Madrid CF vs Manchester United FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 13, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ DANI POZO (Photo credit should read DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Real Madrid v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

    MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 13: Danny Welbeck of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 13, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Real Madrid v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

    MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 13: Danny Welbeck of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 13, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal celebrates scoring during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal celebrates scoring during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal celebrates scoring during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Mnachester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Patrice Evra, left, and Jonny Evans contest a high ball with Real Madrid's Raphael Varane from France and goalkeeper Diego Lopez, right, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Phil Jones and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, right, celebrates scoring a goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Phil Jones, center, takes a header during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Phil Jones, center, is surrounded by Real Madrid players during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Patrice Evra, left, and Jonny Evans contest a high ball with Real Madrid's Raphael Varane from France and goalkeeper Diego Lopez, right, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manchester United's Michael Carrick and Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester United - Santiago Bernabeu

    Manhester United's Rafael Da Silva and Real Madrid's Raphael Varane (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, center, and Robin van Persie battle for the ball with Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao from Portugal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring a goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Robin van Persie, right, watches as Real Madrid's Raphael Varane from France tries to intercept the ball during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, is challenged by Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, left, and Jonny Evans battle for the ball with Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil from Germany during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, score the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, left, and Shinji Kagawa battle for the ball during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, left, and Jonny Evans battle for the ball with Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil from Germany, right, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, foreground, celebrates scoring a goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, top, celebrates with teammates after Danny Welbeck scored the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, score the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Robin van Persie, top, heads the ball as Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos holds his face during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson, left, takes his seat ahead of the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Rafael, left, tackles Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal, right, during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, is challenged by Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, left, scores against Real Madrid during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, center, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

  • Manchester United's Robin van Persie, top, heads the ball as Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos holds his face during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)