Mourinho: Advantage could be Key

Mourinho: Advantage could be Key

Published Feb. 26, 2010 11:14 a.m. ET

Inter Milan are in a better position now than they have been in the last seven years, according to their coach Jose Mourinho.

Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Chelsea sees the Serie A giants take an advantage into the second leg of a Champions League tie for the first time since 2003, when they were beaten by bitter rivals AC Milan in the semi-final.

And Mourinho hopes that makes the difference when he returns to Stamford Bridge.

"I think playing the first leg at home is always very complicated," said the former Chelsea manager.

"Inter in recent years with Manchester United and before me with Liverpool, Valencia and Villarreal have always found it difficult and have never won.

"They have never gone abroad with a win. This is a different situation. We arrive in London in the lead.

"Chelsea have to come from behind."

Mourinho praised his players for their performance at the San Siro on Wednesday night, particularly after their monumental effort in Serie A at the weekend.

The Nerazzurri battled to a goalless draw against Sampdoria despite being reduced to nine men with 52 minutes left to play on Saturday, leaving fatigue as a major issue last night.

Moreover, on Wednesday night the entire back line was one yellow card away from being suspended for the second leg at Stamford Bridge, further complicating matters in Mourinho's eyes.

"I would say it (the win) was down to the great work of the players," he added.

"We had four players who could have been suspended for the second leg, but they did not get a yellow card and this is the merit of the players.

"It is not easy playing against (Didier) Drogba, (Salomon) Kalou and (Nicolas) Anelka and not getting a yellow card and to not even be close to one is a great achievement.

"We are a team with a different dimension now and with Lucio, a player who can challenge Drogba in the air.

"It is not difficult to understand that two or three players had physical problems at the end because they had run like madmen on Saturday. It's not easy playing with nine against 11."

Mourinho, who steered Porto to Champions League success in 2004, believes the rest of Europe will have taken note of his side's performance last night.

"I think we have demonstrated that we are a worthy Champions League team," said the Portuguese coach. "We can play at this level in the Champions League.

"If you put Inter into a European league, we would certainly be a leading team in that league.

"Chelsea is a great example of a team with great quality and we have beaten them, which means we have done great things."