MANCHESTER - Manchester United stayed on course to retain their Champions League title by grinding out a 2-0 win over Inter Milan to reach the last eight on Wednesday. Headed goals early in each half by Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo sent United through after the first leg in the San Siro had ended 0-0 and kept them on course to win five major trophies this season.
It was not a vintage performance from United but there was to be no repeat of Inter coach Jose Mourinho's victory jig down the touchline which greeted his Porto side's late winner at Old Trafford five years ago.
"United deserved to win in that they did win and scored two goals over the two games," Mourinho told a news conference.
"That's something we have to accept but I don't think anyone should be negative about my team's display.
"I think we played well but we didn't have any luck. I don't like to talk about luck because it seems like you are calling into question your opponents, but you need luck against a very good side."
United manager Alex Ferguson admitted his team had not been at their best as they notched up a record 21st unbeaten match in major European competitions.
"We started well and I thought it would be one of those nights where we scored a few goals but then we started doing flicks and passes into space where nobody was and back heels and I thought it was a bit reckless," Ferguson said.
"From the middle of the first half to the end of the first half they were the better side but we were better after the break and regained control of the game."
Mourinho, who had previously lost only once in 13 meetings with Ferguson, watched his side strike the woodwork twice and Inter wasted several other good chances.
United knew that any mistakes could prove fatal but their nerves were quickly settled as Vidic put them ahead after four minutes.
The big Serbian defender lost his marker from a Ryan Giggs delivered a corner and thumped a header past Julio Cesar but as Inter settled the Premier League champions went off the boil.
First Vidic sliced hurriedly over his own crossbar and Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed a Maicon cross against the bar with the goal gaping.
Dejan Stankovic and Ibrahimovic went close again as United became unusually careless with the ball to give the visitors real heart.
United got the perfect boost just after the break when striker Wayne Rooney and winger Cristiano Ronaldo combined to devastating effect.
Rooney, who had been quiet, clipped a perfect cross into the area after 49 minutes and the world player of the year stole in to head his first Champions League goal of the season.
Inter refused to buckle and still retained a threat but when substitute Adriano's shot rebounded off the inside of the post they realised it was not to be their night.