Much of the spotlight beforehand was on former Red Devil Cristiano Ronaldo and he pulled the hosts level with a pinpoint header on the half-hour mark.
No more goals were to be had but both sides had gilt-edged chances to snatch a win.
Below, Sports Mole pores over an enthralling 90 minutes at the Bernabeu.
On target 14
On target 9
Was the result fair?
It's always hard to tell in these games if the result was fair. United went to Madrid with a clear game plan to try to strike their opponents on the break and they will feel they deserved a draw. However, Madrid created more of the chances, not necessarily the best ones, and will be annoyed to have only found the net once.
Los Blancos weren't afraid to pile bodies forward and they displayed their attacking prowess. David de Gea had to come to United's rescue on numerous occasions but Madrid didn't really open up United. They had plenty of shots from range and that will have pleased Sir Alex Ferguson. Ronaldo was the focus and his header was pure class. He was lively throughout but didn't have one of his best games, mainly because of the solid United defending.
Fergie will be delighted to leave with a point and, on the whole, his side were excellent tonight. De Gea made some crucial saves while Ferdinand and Evans were strong in the middle of defence. Rafael had a bit of a nightmare first half but improved after the break. In midfield Michael Carrick was composed while Phil Jones provided plenty of energy. Welbeck was equally tireless as the likes of Van Persie and Rooney were kept out of the game for the most part.
Sports Mole's man of the match
David de Gea: The United keeper had a couple of dodgy moments from crosses but that's the weakest part of his game. The strongest, his shot stopping, was at its very best tonight as he kept Madrid out several times. His save in just the sixth minute was truly brilliant. Fabio Coentrao's shot looked destined for the far corner until the Spaniard's fingertips just nudged it onto the inside of the post.
There's a clear winner here tonight and that's Van Persie. He had the chance to score a second for United by stealing in behind the sleepy Madrid defence. He took a perfect first touch on his chest but barely hit his volley. The ball did manage to bounce over Lopez but Xabi Alonso was alert to get back and clear it from under the crossbar.
Felix Brych showed early on that he was going to be very strict and handed out three yellows to United players for very little. He made one big mistake when simply shaking his head when Rafael Varane clipped Patrice Evra's heels as he looked to break clear on goal. If Brych had correctly awarded a free kick then he probably would have had to send off the Madrid centre-back and things could have been much different.
Madrid: Next up for Real is a third straight home match against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. The return leg at Old Trafford is in three weeks' time on March 5.
United: The Red Devils next face Reading in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night.