MILAN - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised his team's growing maturity after dominating Serie A leader Inter Milan in a 0-0 Champions League draw.
The only down side of United's performance in the San Siro on Tuesday night was the failure to convert one of its numerous chances, particularly in a first half in which there seemed to be a gulf in class between the two teams.
It left Ferguson disappointed to be going back to Old Trafford in two weeks time with the tie still finely in the balance.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win the match but it's only half time in a way and we're going to Old Trafford," said Ferguson. We came here two years ago and you can see the development of the team. In our immaturity we were swamped by AC Milan that night but you saw the maturity (against Inter), the team is improving."
Two years ago United had won a thrilling semi-final first-leg clash 3-2 at Old Trafford but were simply swept away in the return as a Kaka-inspired Milan cantered to a 3-0 victory.
But Ferguson pointed to last season's semifinal against Barcelona for a more contemporary example of United's response to a 0-0 first leg draw away from home.
"What you're seeing in the team is maturity. There's always a threat at home that you can lose a goal and that's a threat if you don't score away," he said. "We didn't score against Barcelona either and we were playing a fantastic Barcelona team at Old Trafford." But a single goal from Paul Scholes was enough to see United through to the final, which they won dramatically on penalties against Chelsea.
"Our concentration in that game (against Barca) was fantastic and that's what we will need to be (against Inter), concentrated and focused. I think we'll be ok with that. I think they will play more condensed, tighter. They will go back to their penalty box."
And while Ferguson praised his team he also seemed to be enjoying another battle with Mourinho.
Mourinho claimed after the match that Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo had favored the visitors.
"I thought it was a marvelous performance from the referee, he wasn't intimidated and that's what Jose was hoping for," said Ferguson.
Meanwhile, three Manchester supporters were attacked by Inter fans in the aftermath of the match, ANSA news agency reported.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight, near the stadium, on a road connecting the San Siro with the nearest metro stop. The United fans, aged 28, 48 and 49 were taken to San Carlo hospital in Milan for treatment. One suffered a broken nose and another a cut on the head.