MILAN - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho said he understood the importance of beating rivals Juventus after the Serie A leaders won 1-0 at the San Siro on Saturday. The champions extended their lead at the top to four points after Sulley Muntari turned in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's effort. "We played better than the opposition. The team did fantastic from the first minute to the last, those on the pitch and those on the bench," the jubilant Portuguese coach told reporters. "I understood during the week how important it is for Inter to beat Juventus. To beat a team like Juventus you have to play very well. We scored a goal that wasn't beautiful but it is three points to us." Their already fierce rivalry worsened in 2006 when Juve were stripped of the title and demoted in a match-fixing scandal, leaving Inter to be awarded the championship and then sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira from their rivals. Mourinho and Juventus counterpart Claudio Ranieri are also far from being best friends after a number of crossed words and the fact that Ranieri was sacked by Chelsea in 2004 to make way for the Portuguese. "Juve played a negative game," Mourinho said before explaining why he had brought back striker Adriano from a four-match absence after discipline problems. "For a game like this we needed an 'animal' like Adriano." Ranieri, whose third-placed side could have gone joint-top with Inter with a win, was gracious in defeat. "Inter deserved it because they pressed and stopped us playing our game." he said. "I think Ibrahimovic wasn't trying to pass but was trying to shoot. It could have been tiredness on our part. Tonight we maybe played too many long balls."
22 November 2008
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