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Feb 25, 2009

Mourinho: Rearguard action was a necessary tactic

Jose Mourinho has revealed he had to play a rearguard action against Manchester United at the San Siro to protect his team from conceding a crucial away goals.

Inter Milan and United are locked at 0-0 after the first leg of their Round of 16 tie, and Mourinho now believes he will be able to continue his fine run of form against Sir Alex Ferguson which has resulted in just one defeat in 13 matches.

The Portuguese coach knows that any goal Inter can muster at Old Trafford will be worth double should the teams finish level meaning his side would then progress on away goals.

With United able to play with pace and power, Mourinho chose to play a containing game in the first half which only just came to fruition as the visitors dominated.

Mourinho will hope Inter can emulate his FC Porto side and knock Manchester United out on their own turf.

"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.''

Meanwhile, UEFA is considering disciplinary action against Mourinho after his post-match allegations of refereeing bias.

"We are looking into the comments along with our disciplinary department," a spokesman for European soccer's governing body said on Wednesday.

Following the first knockout round, first leg encounter, Mourinho said he was unhappy with Spanish referee Luis Medina Catalejo particularly over his dismissal of a penalty claim by Inter striker Adriano.

"If we have a referee that gives the same protection to the away team (at Old Trafford), we will go into the quarter-final," Mourinho told reporters.

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