His friend Jose Mourinho and former hero Cristiano Ronaldo combined to destroy United at Old Trafford. The 75,000 fans at the Theatre of Dreams went silent went Luka Modric scored the equaliser and three minutes later Ronaldo scored the crucial goal which sent Real through to the quarters.
Mourinho made the changes which brought them on level terms while Ronaldo's goal ensured qualification. Sergio Ramos was fortunate to put the ball back in his own net with Nani's cross. The Portuguese was sent off for a hig-footed tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa, giving us flashes of 2010 when Rafael was sent-off against Bayern Munich.
Modric entered for Arbeloa and eight miunutes later the Croatian playmaker hammered a shot in past diving David De Gea. Three minutes later, Gonzalo Higuain's cross met Ronaldo at the far corner who chipped in from close range to give his the lead.
However, Ronaldo did not make much of an impact on the biggest night. Prior to the match Mourinho declared that Ronaldo was the greatest ever footballer. But the Spanish side were rescued by keeper Diego Lopez after denying Nemanja Vidic, Danny Welbeck, Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie.
Ferguson will be questioned for his team selection after he dropped Wayne Rooney on the bench and started Nani with both Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia on the sideline.
Mourinho said "the best team lost" while Mike Phelan, speaking for Ferguson felt the sending off turned the game around.
"It spoilt the game. We have a very distraught dressing room and a very distraught manager. I don't think he is in any fit state to talk to the referee about the decision."