The Italian believes the Champions League holders played into his side's hands and praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his efforts upon his return from injury
The hosts saw little of the ball over the course of the game but were a persistent menace on the break, and it was on such a raid Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the match in the first half.
For the Italian coach, it was an evening that went according to plan, even though he was frustrated at the nervous opening from his side.
"When they slowed their pace we were better," he admitted to Canal + after the game. "We made some great counterattacks. Teamwork was so important, and [Fabio] Coentrao and [Dani] Carvajal were helped by Isco and [Angel] Di Maria.
"I'm happy about everything, even if the game was hard. Sometimes we suffered but we played well on the attack.
"We began a bit shy, being too defensive and having some problems."
Cristiano Ronaldo recovered from injury to feature for 70 minutes of the match while Gareth Bale would only play a late cameo due to flu, yet the coach was pleased with how his side coped without the two attacking stars in tandem.
"Without Bale and Cristiano at their perfect level, it is not easy. Cristiano did some excellent work," he said.
Despite his side's lead, the former AC Milan and Juventus boss was unwilling to predict a straightforward passage to the final as they look ahead to the return leg at the Allianz Arena.
"The second leg will be tough and we must play with the kind of confidence we showed tonight."