MILAN: AC Milan clinched their first Serie A title in 11 years on Sunday after beating Sassuolo 3-0 in Reggio Emilia to snatch the crown from local rivals Inter Milan on the final day of a thrilling campaign.
Needing just one point to win the Scudetto, Milan swept away the hosts with a brace from Olivier Giroud and another from Franck Kessie in the first half in front of an army of away fans at the Mapei Stadium .
Stefano Pioli’s Milan finished two points clear of Inter, who beat Sampdoria 3-0 at the San Siro but could not retain their title.
Fans celebrated in Milan and sang ‘We Are The Champions’ with the players on the pitch in Reggio Emilia as the ‘Rossoneri’ returned to the top of the Italian game after years of bad teams and financial problems since their last championship title in 2011.
“We deserved it for always believing it was possible,” Pioli said after winning his first major trophy as a coach at the age of 56. “My players never gave up, they were all fantastic… I enjoyed it because I could see my players were enjoying it too.
Milan were imperious in winning their sixth game on the rebound and securing a title that for long stretches of the season looked like Inter’s to lose.
They were helped by another thrilling display from winger Rafael Leao and a great display from Giroud, who scored some of the most important goals in Milan’s charge for the title despite only scoring 11 goals all season in the league. .
Sassuolo immediately withered against an onslaught from Milan and practically gave Giroud the chance to score an almost identical brace in the opening 32 minutes, both laid down by Leao.
And four minutes later, Leao burst in on the right and cut for Kessie, who smashed the third to sign in perfect fashion ahead of his move to Barcelona as a free agent at the end of the season.
“When I came here (Christmas 2019) I said I would bring Milan back to the top and win the title,” said Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was in Milan the last time they won the league.
“It’s a great group of players. We worked hard, quietly and in the end it was us who won, because two years ago the situation was very difficult.
Inter fans packed the San Siro in hopes their side would pounce on an error from Milan, but they were the ones who struggled the hardest to break the deadlock against a Samp side that didn’t had nothing to play.
A seething atmosphere slowly dissipated as news of Milan’s goals arrived and there was also frustration over Inter’s inability to make the most of their clear dominance.
As so often this season, it was Ivan Perisic who took charge, finishing calmly in the bottom corner with his left foot after being set up nicely by a raging Nicolo Barella.
From there, Samp gave up the ghost and two goals in as many minutes from Joaquin Correa just before the hour mark saw Inter finish with a win.
Home fans cheered for their team off the pitch despite what must have been a painful way to lose their Serie A crown, with the Curva Nord hardcore chanting the name of coach Simone Inzaghi in a show of faith that will probably be shared by the club.
“I think the team should be applauded. It was a brilliant season which could have been extraordinary,” Inzaghi told DAZN. , but it was not enough.
Salernitana completed their miraculous escape from relegation despite losing 4-0 at home to Udinese, with Cagliari descending to Serie B after drawing 0-0 bottom of Venice.
Cagliari needed to win to hope to stay on their feet but failed to find a goal and finished a point and a place behind Salernitana just inside the drop zone.
Fans celebrated and took to the pitch in Salerno after their side, which had been bottom for most of the season, were saved from relegation with the lowest points tally of any team to go down in history of the Serie A.
(Table under played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points) AC Milan 38 26 8 4 69 31 86 Inter Milan 38 25 9 4 84 32 84 Napoli 38 24 7 7 74 31 79 Juventus 38 20 10 8 57 37 70 Lazio 38 18 10 10 77 58 64 Rome 38 18 9 11 59 43 63 Fiorentina 38 19 5 14 59 51 62 Atalanta 38 16 11 11 65 48 59 Verona 38 14 11 13 62 4 6 11 61 Sassu 50 Turin 38 13 11 14 46 41 50 Bologna 38 12 10 16 44 55 46 Udinese 38 11 14 13 61 58 47 Empoli 38 10 11 17 50 70 41 Sampdoria 38 10 6 22 46 67 1 Spezia6 38 1 0 38 7 10 21 33 78 31 Cagliari 38 6 12 20 34 68 30 Genoa 38 4 16 18 27 60 28 Venice 38 6 9 23 34 69 27
Posted in Dawn, May 24, 2022