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Sir Alex Ferguson expressed his disappointment after Manchester United FC failed to take their chances in a goalless draw with FC Internazionale Milano, but praised his side's maturity in the away first leg of the first knockout round tie. Inter coach José Mourinho singled out goalkeeper Júlio César for praise and took heart from an improved second-half performance ahead of the decider at Old Trafford on 11 March.
José Mourinho, Inter coach
I think 0-0 is a good result for us. When I won the Champions League with Porto, we drew 0-0 at home [in the semi-finals] and still went through against Deportivo La Coruña. I didn't want to travel to Manchester trailing in the tie because they are great on the counterattack. They are sprinters. Today it was the ideal game for them to play on the break, but they did not score because Júlio César was excellent in the first half and because we played better than them in the second. I still think it's 50-50 for both teams. When two great teams face each other it's hard for one to be on top of the other for 90 minutes.
I think our problem in the first half was Manchester United, who are a great team. But we were better than them in the second half when they weren't able to get past our midfield in the first 20 minutes. It's a pity for the fans that the game ended 0-0 but I think it was a top-level game anyway. Now we cannot afford to lose at Old Trafford but it will be difficult for them as well because they will have to win and we can make their life difficult by scoring a goal. We will have to score as soon as possible there, trying to be as tight as possible. [Davide] Santon is not a promising player, he is already a great player. He proved it by playing a great match against Ronaldo tonight, he was absolutely fantastic.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
I think there is always disappointment when you don't win a game like this despite the chances we had and how well we played. However, we have a good record at Old Trafford and we have to win the tie in our stadium. We are only halfway there. Two years ago we were swamped by AC Milan here [in the semi-finals] but today we proved we have improved a lot since then. We showed great maturity today. I started with [Wayne] Rooney on the bench because he had played only one full game in seven weeks.
I prepared [Ryan] Giggs to play this way [in central midfield] for a week and I think he did well, as did [Dimitar] Berbatov, who was fantastic up front. [Cristiano] Ronaldo also did very well for me but you could see that the Inter boy [Santon] is very determined. He is very young but played well. I'm very happy with the level of maturity of my team, but we will still need concentration and focus at Old Trafford in two weeks' time. There is always the possibility of conceding a goal at home and Inter will be more defensive than compared to tonight. We always look to attack and we will do it again in the return.
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