Mourinho: We did what we had to

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho insists his excellent record against Sir Alex Ferguson is no fluke and appears confident he will be able to get the better of him again in a fortnight to take Inter Milan to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Mourinho has been beaten only once in 13 matches against Ferguson and a 0-0 draw at the San Siro last night leaves the last-16 tie finely poised ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.

Inter prevented Manchester United from taking an important away goal back to England with them and Mourinho reckons he got his tactics spot on once again.

"They are a very quick team and we don't have these characteristics," he explained.

"The only reason I lost only once against Manchester United is that I understood this immediately.

"If they had scored in the first half, the situation would have been harder for us and, for this, it is not an easy decision to make to sit deep and try to block them."

Mourinho apologised to his team's fans for the fact the game ended goalless, but he still thinks they will thank him in the long run for not going gung-ho against the Red Devils.

And he seems to have got the hang of the tactical dependency of Italian football.

"It is a shame for the fans who have come here and seen a 0-0, but it was still a high quality game," he said.

"If we had played further up the field, then it gives us more options in attack, but it leaves us more room behind.

"They are quick on the wing, but then so too are (Davide) Santon and Maicon, who are truly fast.

"Is it better to have (Sulley) Muntari and (Javier) Zanetti covering for them or pressing (Darren) Fletcher a bit higher up the field? It is not an easy game, but it is a beautiful one."

Davide Santon was picked out for special praise by Mourinho after his coming of age in his first Champions League game.

At the age of 18, Santon showed no apprehension whatsoever when pitted against FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I don't think we can say any more that Santon is a hot prospect. It is time to say that he is already a great player," said Mourinho.

"He has played his first game in the Champions League in a direct match with Ronaldo.

"And he has shown he is physical, has speed, has intensity and has quality."