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AC Milan won 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 a point to claim the Scudetto Milan swept their hosts aside thanks to an Olivier Giroud brace 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 ahead of Inter, who beat Sampdoria 3-0 at the San Siro but could not retain their title.

Fans partied 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 poor teams and financial problems since their last league crown in 2011.

“We deserved this for always having believed it was possible,” said Pioli after winning his first ever major trophy as a coach at the age of 56.

“My players never gave up, they were all fantastic… I’ve enjoyed it because I could see that my players enjoyed it too.”

Milan were imperious in winning their sixth match on the bounce and securing a title which for long tracts of the season looked like Inter’s to lose.

They were helped by another exciting display from winger Rafael Leao, and big game display from Giroud, who has struck some of the most important goals of Milan’s charge to the title despite only netting 11 times all season in the league.

Sassuolo immediately wilted in the face of a Milan onslaught and practically handed Giroud the chance to net an almost identical double in the first 32 minutes, both laid on by Leao.

And four minutes later Leao burst down the right and cut back for Kessie, who smashed in the third to sign off in perfect fashion ahead of his move to Barcelona as a free agent in the close season.

“When I came here (over Christmas 2019) I said that I would take Milan back to the top and that I would win the title,” said Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was at Milan the last time they won the league.

“This is a great group of players. We’ve worked hard, quietly and in the end we’re the ones who have won, because two years ago the situation was very difficult.”

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Torino 0-0 AC Milan: Door open for Inter after Rossoneri held

AC Milan opened the door for Inter Milan to temporarily reclaim the lead of the Serie A title race as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Torino.

The Rossoneri were tasked with responding after Inter’s 2-0 win over Hellas Verona on Saturday, which moved the Nerazzurri just a point adrift.

But, after seeing fellow challengers Napoli slip up with a 3-1 home defeat to Fiorentina, Milan also stumbled.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between, Milan failing to take advantage of their edge in possession.

It means Inter can go a point ahead at the top with a win at Spezia on Friday, when they kick off two hours before Milan host Genoa.

Davide Calabria’s long-range effort drew a strong save from Etrit Berisha in the 24th minute before Torino midfielder Samuele Ricci fired wide of the near post at the other end.

Mike Maignan tipped over from Mergim Vojvoda five minutes after the restart as Torino created the better opportunities in the second half.

Sandro Tonali was denied by Berisha after cleverly working his way into the box, with Andrea Belotti seeing a chance to secure a shock win for Torino go begging when he fired into the side-netting on an evening where the Granata were full value for a stalemate that could prove pivotal in the battle for the Scudetto.

After Napoli were beaten at home by La Viola, their coach Luciano Spalletti suggested their title hopes were out of their hands.

Such an assessment may have been premature after Milan dropped points again, recording successive 0-0 draws in Serie A for the first time since December 2018, when they also had back-to-back stalemates from games with Torino and Bologna.

Just six points separate the top four, with Juventus not out of the hunt. It is Inter who look to be in the driver’s seat, though, trailing by just two points with a game in hand on their arch rivals.

A primary source of Milan’s frustration was Torino centre-back Bremer, who was outstanding at the back for the hosts. 

The Brazilian, linked with Liverpool and Inter, produced a game-high six clearances as well as three tackles and three blocks, winning possession five times.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli was booked for remonstrating with the referee after full-time, though perhaps he was more exasperated by his side producing only three shots on target, heightening the pressure on them from the chasing pack.

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A stunning header from substitute Junior Messias in the dying minutes handed AC Milan a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid and kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the last-16 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Milan arrived in Madrid rooted to the bottom of Group B with only one point and anything but a win against Atletico would have eliminated them from this season’s competition.

Wednesday’s result means the race to see who will join group winners Liverpool in the next round will go down to the wire. Porto, who are on five points, as well as Milan and Atletico, who are tied on four points, will have to wait until the final round of fixtures to decide who will finish second, and progress to the last 16.

Milan will host Liverpool while Atletico will travel to Porto on Dec. 7 for the final Group B fixtures.

On a freezing night in Madrid, a packed crowd at the Metropolitano Stadium failed to spur on Atletico, who struggled to make any kind of impact against a Milan side who showed urgency and aggression.

Brazilian Messias, who has completed a remarkable journey from working as a delivery driver and playing amateur football before slowly climbing the ladder , broke the deadlock in the 87th minute with a spectacular header after latching on to a perfect cross from Franck Kessie.

“They studied us really well and our gameplan didn’t work,” Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann told reporters.

“The Champions League is very difficult and Milan were superior in every aspect. We have to work, to get better…”

Milan controlled the game from the beginning, despite manager Stefano Pioli springing a surprise by starting Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench after he scored two goals against Fiorentina on Saturday.

The Swedish striker came on in the second half and almost scored a second goal in stoppage time, appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty after being caught by keeper Jan Oblak when he was about to shoot.

Atletico will finish the group stage having won none of their three home games, after losing to Milan and Liverpool and drawing with Porto.

“The Champions League does not forgive,” Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said.

“You only go through when you deserve to.”

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AC Milan continued their unbeaten start to the Serie A season with a 1-1 draw against Inter Milan in an enthralling Derby della Madonnina on Sunday, maintaining the Rossoneri’s seven-point lead over the reigning Italian champions.

Hakan Calhanoglu, who crossed the divide by joining Inter on a free transfer from Milan in the summer, quickly made his mark against his former employers by winning and scoring a penalty 11 minutes in.

But Stefan de Vrij headed into his own net to draw the Rossoneri level six minutes later, before Milan keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu superbly saved a Lautaro Martinez penalty in a frantic first half.

Milan substitute Alexis Saelemaekers was inches away from a stunning 90th-minute winner when his powerful strike cannoned off the foot of the post, as Stefano Pioli’s side dropped points for just the second time this season in the league.

“The glass is half full, it was a complicated match. In the end the performance was positive against a strong team, but we showed that we are also strong,” Pioli told DAZN.

“We were brave, especially in the defensive phase. We attacked with a lot of players in the first half and showed great desire to bring home a big result. Only us and Napoli are still unbeaten in the top European leagues.”

Milan remain second with 32 points, behind leaders Napoli on goal difference, while champions Inter are third with 25 points.

It is the first time the Rossoneri have registered as many as 32 points after 12 games of a Serie A season in the three points for a win era.

The stakes were high for both teams, with Milan having the chance to go ten points clear of one of their major title rivals and Inter desperately needing a result to keep hopes of a successful Scudetto defence alive.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi therefore saw the result in a different light to his Milan counterpart Pioli.

“For us the glass is half empty because with the chances we created and the penalty we missed, we deserved more,” Inzaghi told DAZN.

“But we were up against a great team that is deservedly on top of the table. We are lagging behind, but there is still time and games like this make us more self-aware.”

The game started with a bang when Calhanoglu was tripped by Franck Kessie to win a penalty, which he converted before celebrating in front of supporters of Milan, the club he represented for four years.

Inter’s lead lasted only six minutes before De Vrij headed a dangerous cross into his own net, but the Nerazzurri had a golden chance to regain the advantage when Fode Ballo-Toure brought down Matteo Darmian to concede a second spot kick.

This time Martinez stepped up, but the Argentina international’s effort was saved by Tatarusanu, who sprung to his right to get a hand to the shot.

Inter cranked up the pressure as Nicolo Barella had a shot cleared off the line and Martinez shot wide from a promising position, and after the break nobody could get a touch on Calhanoglu’s dangerous drilled volley across the six-yard box.

Milan finished the stronger as a Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick required a smart save from Samir Handanovic, but Saelemaekers came closest when his shot thumped the post and Kessie sent the rebound wide.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 150th Serie A goal as AC Milan inflicted Jose Mourinho’s first home defeat in the Italian top flight with a 2-1 win over AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to keep pace with Serie A leaders Napoli.

The 40-year-old striker rifled a low free kick into the bottom corner in the 25th minute to put the visitors ahead after a lively start, his 400th goal in total in domestic leagues.

Ibrahimovic had a brilliantly finished second ruled out for offside after the break, just like team mate Rafael Leao in the first half, before going down under Roger Ibanez’s challenge to earn a spot kick that Franck Kessie converted in the 57th minute.

Milan were reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes after left-back Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card, but Stephan El Shaarawy’s stoppage-time strike was not enough to rescue the game for Roma.

Victory leaves Milan second, level on 31 points with leaders Napoli, and 12 points ahead of fourth-placed Roma.

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Luis Suarez’s last-gasp penalty gave Atletico Madrid a 2-1 comeback win on Tuesday at AC Milan, who failed to hold on to their early lead after playing for an hour with 10-men.

Seven-time European champions Milan thought they were on for their first Champions League win since 2013 when Rafael Leao opened the scoring with 19 minutes gone in the Group B clash at the San Siro, but Antoine Griezmann struck with a superb volley with six minutes left to level the scores before Suarez’s stoppage-time spot-kick broke Milan hearts.

Diego Simeone’s side sit second in the group on four points, two behind Liverpool, after the win which looked unlikely util Franck Kessie was sent off in the 30th minute for a second bookable offence.

Milan were on top until then, snappy in the tackle and on top of Atleti every time the away side had the ball, but sit bottom with zero points following their second successive defeat.

Brahim Diaz was at the heart of Milan’s attacking play and should have had a fine assist to his name in the 19th minute when he sent Ante Rebic through on goal, only for the Croatia forward to put his finish too close to the onrushing Jan Oblak.

Diaz was involved again when the hosts took the lead a minute later through Leao, who following neat footwork in the box from his Spanish teammate arrowed a perfect low shot into the opposite corner of Oblak’s goal.

Milan looked comfortable against an underwhelming Atleti but Kessie handed their opponents a lifeline when having already been booked, arrived late into a challenge on Koke and was sent off.

Despite the man disadvantage Milan held their own and Leao came close to doubling their lead in the most spectacular of fashions, crashing a 38th-minute bicycle kick off the bar from the edge of the area before being flagged for the tightest of offsides.

However Atleti slowly began to force Milan back into their own area and Luis Suarez had two great chances to level the scores either side of the break, first volleying wide on the stroke of half-time and then heading Joao Felix’s pinpoint cross the wrong side off the upright in the 54th minute.

Milan held on resolutely and looked to be on their way to victory until Griezmann met Renan Lodi’s knock back with a beautifully-timed volley which left Mike Maignan with no chance.

The home fans carpeted the San Siro air with whistles, but with the clock ticking down Pierre Kalulu was judged to have handled in the area after a VAR check, and Suarez did the rest to earn Atletico a precious win.

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AC Milan players targeted with racism in consecutive games

Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who is Black, used his Instagram account to raise awareness after being showered with discriminatory insults by Juventus fans during a 1-1 draw Sunday.

For the second consecutive game, an AC Milan player was the target of racist chants.

Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who is Black, used his Instagram account to raise awareness after being showered with discriminatory insults by Juventus fans during a 1-1 draw Sunday.

“Do the people who take decisions know what it feels to hear insults that portray us as animals?” Maignan said.

“Do they know what it does to our family, to our relatives who just can’t understand why these things keep happening in 2021?

“I am not a victim’ of racism. I am Mike, standing up, black and proud. As long as we will be able to raise our voice and make a difference, we’ll do it.”

Tiemoue Bakayoko and fellow Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, both of whom are Black, were the targets of derogatory chants from Lazio supporters in the Rossoneri’s previous match.

The Italian football federation prosecutor has opened an inquiry into the incident involving Lazio fans.

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Liverpool built a Champions League reputation on their 2005 second-half recovery against AC Milan and they were required to come from behind again to get their European campaign off to a winning start.

The achievement was considerably easier than the seemingly gargantuan task of recovering from 3-0 down against the then mighty Serie A giants but they made much harder work of their 3-2 victory at Anfield than they should have done.

Such was their early dominance Jurgen Klopp’s side should have been out of sight well before Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz scored within two minutes of each other just before the break to surprisingly turn the match on its head.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ninth-minute shot had deflected in off Fikayo Tomori before Mohamed Salah missed the chance to establish an early platform with his first failure from the penalty spot in 18 attempts.

Despite trailing at half-time, Klopp would not have had to produce the rallying speech Rafael Benitez did in Istanbul as there had been very little wrong up to the point where they lost all defensive shape moments before the interval.

And even though Milan finished a distant second to city rivals Inter last season, they are not blessed with the star power of a Kaka, Paolo Maldini or Hernan Crespo and without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they lack real quality.

Liverpool turned up the heat with Salah’s 72nd goal in his 100th appearance at Anfield, shortly after the restart provided the necessary momentum and Jordan Henderson secured the win with a low half-volley.

Milan may have won seven European Cups but this was their first outing in this competition since 2014 and their inexperience showed as they constantly gave away possession having found themselves under pressure from the moment they won the toss and invited their hosts to attack the Kop.

Divock Origi, a surprise starter for the rested Sadio Mane, missed a good early chance, Diogo Jota had a shot blocked and Joel Matip’s header – destined for the top corner – was caught by goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

However, the strain told as Alexander-Arnold exchanged passes with Salah and charged into the area where his angled shot bounced up off Tomori and into the net.

It did nothing to help Milan’s nerves; the waves of attacks just kept coming and when Andy Robertson’s cross hit the arm of Ismael Bennacer, Salah had the chance to double their advantage but Maignan saved his penalty and Jota’s follow-up.

The miss appeared to stall the hosts’ momentum – their best chance after that saw Salah’s snap-shot tipped over – and that gave Milan some encouragement but, after the previous 42 minutes they had endure, even they could not have foreseen their finish to the half.

A neat passing move on the edge of the penalty area exploited the channel between centre-back Matip and Alexander-Arnold and Rebic rolled a shot past Alisson.

Their second came from a similar position, with Alexander-Arnold caught upfield, and although Robertson blocked Theo Hernandez’s shot on the line, Diaz followed in to score.

It was uncharacteristically loose from Liverpool but the absence of the calming influence of the rested Virgil Van Dijk offered some explanation.

So another comeback against the Serie A giants was required but, judging by the evidence of the first half, it was entirely achievable.

Salah’s 27th Champions League goal in 46 matches, three minutes after the break after exchanging passes with Origi and poking home the dropping through-ball was the ideal start.

But they had to wait until the 69th minute to get back in front when Henderson drilled in a low half-volley from the edge of the penalty area after a half-cleared corner.

At the final whistle there were no celebrations from the players and it was left to Klopp to produce his now-trademark triple-fist pump in front of the Kop to signify the return of European football to a full house at Anfield.

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Jordan Henderson has told Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer he has “the respect and admiration of everyone in football” for the part he played in saving team-mate Christian Eriksen’s life.

The Liverpool captain will go head to head with the 32-year-old AC Milan defender in the Champions League on Wednesday evening a little more than three months since Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during his country’s 1-0 defeat by Finland in their opening group game at the Euro 2020 finals.

In a series of tweets referring to his programme notes for the Milan game, England midfielder Henderson said: “I’d like to welcome @acmilan’s @simonkjaer1989 to Anfield this evening. He set new standards of leadership during Euro 2020 when Christian Eriksen fell ill.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what that experience was like for the Denmark players and I’m hugely relieved that Christian continues to make a recovery, but as a captain I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way Simon conducted himself and led his team.

“I have seen that @UEFA have given Simon and the Denmark medical team the President’s Award, and that is both fitting and deserved.

“But I hope Simon also knows that he has the respect and admiration of everyone in football for what he did that night.”

Eriksen, 29, collapsed during the first half of the game at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12.

Kjaer was one of the first players to reach his team-mate and perform first aid as medics rushed to Eriksen’s assistance, working to resuscitate him on the pitch before taking him to hospital, where he was fitted with a heart-starting device.

The Inter Milan playmaker has since undergone extensive tests and continues to be monitored. He was able to travel to Italy last month to visit his club’s training ground.

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AC Milan rejoin Europe’s elite without the star power of injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic but coach Stefano Pioli believes they will prove they are worthy of their place.

The seven-time European Cup winners return to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 with a trip to Anfield to play Liverpool.

Ibrahimovic, who only made his comeback from four months out with a knee injury on Sunday against Lazio, has been left at home due to an Achilles problem.

And while the 39-year-old Swede may be their talisman Pioli insists they have gained enough important recent experience to be able to compete with more established sides after three Europa League campaigns in four years.

“Zlatan wanted to join the match (against Lazio) and of course after the match he had some inflammation,” said Pioli.

“We hoped he could play but he still had pain so we don’t want to risk tomorrow as it’s a very important match and we have so many matches.

“We are very sorry for Zlatan because he always wants to play but he will be back soon.

“We are very well prepared. We had the Europa League and all those experiences allowed us to improve, to make mistakes and to grow.

“We are playing at a higher level but this is what we hoped for. This is a great opportunity for us, by raising the bar we can actually perform well.

“Though we have not played in the Champions League we know what to do.

“The group is very difficult and competitive with great experience in Europe but we want to write our history from tomorrow. We are very convinced about ourselves.”

Milan’s 32-year-old captain Simon Kjaer, who only has seven Champions League appearances to his name despite his vast experience, believes they have to make a statement against Jurgen Klopp’s side.

“It is going to be a difficult match but in my opinion we need to go there and play like AC Milan,” he said.

“We are there to demonstrate we are not on holiday. We are there to do something.

“This match is very special because we are back in the Champions League and we will play with great pleasure but we need to demonstrate we are back in the Champions League.

“We are in a very good position in our pathway and we have grown up so much, but we have to show that. We need to have the mindset that we can play against any team.”