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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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Calhanoglu’s penalty seals Derby d’Italia triumph

Inter kept alive their Serie A title hopes with a 1-0 Derby d’Italia win over Juventus at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi’s side were second best in the first half, yet they went ahead moments before the interval courtesy of Hakan Calhanoglu’s twice-taken penalty.

Juve huffed and puffed in the second half but they were unable to find the leveller that would have stretched their unbeaten run in the Italian top flight to 17 games.

The result meant Inter remain in third, three points behind leaders Milan, while Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve stay in fourth, seven points behind the Rossoneri having played a game more.

Juve started at a breakneck pace, and they almost went ahead in the ninth minute when Giorgio Chiellini diverted Samir Handanovic’s dismal punch onto the crossbar from close range.

Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado went close from distance soon after, while Alvaro Morata headed across the face of goal from a promising position.

Despite Juve’s dominance, Inter went in at the break ahead in dramatic circumstances.

Wojciech Szczesny kept out Calhanoglu’s initial spot-kick after Morata had clipped Denzel Dumfries, yet the ball ended up in the back of the net following an almighty scramble.

Referee Massimiliano Irrati chalked that off, though, after a Juve player had stepped into the area too early, with Calhanoglu making no mistake from 12 yards at the second time of asking.

Dusan Vlahovic whipped wide after a smart turn shortly after the hour mark, before substitute Denis Zakaria thumped the post as Juve’s unbeaten run ended with a whimper. 

This was only Inter’s second away victory over Juventus in their past 16 attempts across all competitions, and there is little doubt they rode their luck.

A dominant Juve finished the game having had 23 shots, while the Nerazzurri managed a mere five, with just one on target. That was the one that mattered, though.

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Liverpool suffered their first Anfield defeat in a year after a 1-0 defeat to 10-man Inter Milan but still progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League courtesy of their two-goal first-leg advantage.

Lautaro Martinez’s 61st-minute goal had given the visitors a chance of overturning the deficit but Alexis Sanchez’s red card for a second bookable offence less than two minutes later blew a hole in their hopes.

Liverpool, who have not lost a European tie when they have won the first away leg – 37 times and counting – should have put the result beyond doubt as Mohamed Salah hit both posts in the second half.

But in keeping with what was, for periods, not the easiest of nights against the Serie A champions Jurgen Klopp’s side saw things out to reach a fourth quarter-final in five years despite losing their 100 per cent record in the competition this season.

The last team to win here was Fulham, at the end of an unprecedented six-match losing streak at Anfield, 366 days ago but the calibre of this opposition was considerably stronger and, very much like the first leg, Liverpool did not have things all their own way as they are used to doing domestically.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi had said pre-match his side had to score in the first half and they set about their challenge with determination with their 3-5-2 formation and high-intensity press giving their hosts plenty to think about.

Denzel Dumfries’ early shot was easily saved by Alisson Becker but aside from a Hakan Calhanoglu’s free-kick straight at the goalkeeper – who had purposefully left a gap for him in a two-man wall – Inter saw little reward for their effort.

In fact, Liverpool could have put the tie to bed before the interval as Joel Matip headed against the crossbar and Virgil Van Dijk had an effort deflected wide.

Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped a free-kick wide deep in added time and then, soon after the restart, produced a strangely late-dipping shot which almost caught out Samir Handanovic

After the break Liverpool discovered the control they had been looking for as Inter’s intensity levels began to drop.

It should have brought the opening goal when, with goalkeeper Handanovic on the floor having beaten Diogo Jota to the ball, Salah shot against the post with only a couple of covering defenders to beat.

That was all the encouragement Anfield needed and, with the last eight edging closer, the noise levels were raised.

With the game opening up Martinez had a shot deflected wide when he should have really have hit the target, although he made no mistake with his swerving 20-yard effort in the 61st minute.

But within two minutes Inter’s task was made more difficult when Sanchez was sent off after his follow-through on Fabinho earned him a second booking.

Klopp immediately stiffened his midfield by sending on Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita for Thiago Alcantara, making his first start after a three-match absence, and Curtis Jones, also just back from injury.

Sadio Mane’s lofted pass saw Salah volley against the other post while in added time substitute Luis Diaz had a certain goal denied when Arturo Vidal deflected his shot over.

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Liverpool executed an old-fashioned European smash and grab in the San Siro as goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah handed them a huge advantage against Inter Milan

Jurgen Klopp’s side were well below their best, especially for 30 minutes of the second half, but have the knack of knowing how to win when it matters and late goals left their opponents with a 2-0 deficit to overcome at Anfield in the second leg of this Champions League last-16 tie next month.

At Burnley on Sunday they had proved they can grind out results in difficult circumstances but this was something of a step up in class against the defending Serie A champions.

But with Virgil Van Dijk at times seemingly single-handedly holding the defence together they weathered what storm there was and struck with clinical efficiency like the Liverpool sides of old in Europe.

Half-time substitute Firmino produced a superb flicked header from Andy Robertson’s inswinging 75th-minute corner and eight minutes later Salah’s deflected shot – the eight successive Champions League away game in which he has scored – made Inter’s task all the more difficult.

The gamble of handing teenager Harvey Elliott his first Champions League appearance with a place in the starting line-up, making him Liverpool’s youngest player in the competition, excluding qualifiers, by surpassing team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (18 years and 354 days), did not pay off but it was far from the youngster’s fault.

There were far too many more senior players having off days and for a time, especially after the break, it looked like it might cost them.

The game was strangely open for a Champions League knockout tie with Lautaro Martinez lashing a shot wide from just outside the area, Hakan Calhanoglu’s angled shot glancing off the crossbar and Milan Skriniar heading wide at a corner for the hosts in the first half.

Liverpool arguably created better chances with Sadio Mane heading over a Robertson free-kick when he should probably have scored before planting an acrobatic overhead effort into the side-netting.

Either side of those Thiago Alcantara’s dipping volley dropped onto the roof of the net and Alexander-Arnold whipped wide a free-kick.

The visitors’ pressing game was paying dividends in the final third with Inter often getting caught in possession or giving the ball away but there was no profit to be made from that.

Liverpool at least had the reassuring presence of Van Dijk, who usually saves his absolute best for the business end of the season, at the other end.

Edin Dzeko looked to have gained a couple of yards on the edge of the area but the Dutchman’s recovery was effortless to casually dispossess the former Manchester City striker.

Firmino replaced Diogo Jota at the interval but it was Inter who started better with Martinez failing to get on the end of Ivan Perisic’s inviting cross.

Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Luis Diaz arrived midway through the second half with the hosts threatening to push home their dominance and the latter was immediately into the action forcing Skriniar to block a shot.

But Liverpool’s play continued to be ragged, only offering more encouragement to their opponents, who frequently tried to exploit the channel between Alexander-Arnold and centre-back Ibrahima Konate.

Denzel Dumfries headed over a corner but Firmino was far more clinical from Robertson’s inswinging delivery and Salah matched that decisiveness when he doubled their lead soon after.

The fact Klopp eschewed his customary fist pumps despite the urging of the travelling support suggested he knew they had probably got away with one and he did not want to push his luck further.

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Inter Milan marked the return of Jose Mourinho to the San Siro on Tuesday by dumping their idol’s new team Roma out of the Italian Cup 2-0 and reaching the semi-finals. Mourinho coached in front of an Inter home crowd for the first time since leaving in 2010 but after being warmly welcomed back by supporters in Milan Roma limply exited the competition thanks to a goal almost straight from kick-off by Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez’s second-half pile-driver.

The win for Inter, who will meet either AC Milan or Lazio in the last four with those sides facing each other on Wednesday, was the perfect response to losing the derby on Saturday, the tempestuous aftermath of which has led to coach Simone Inzaghi being suspended for the weekend’s huge clash at fellow Serie A title chasers Napoli.

Portuguese Mourinho is a footballing deity for Inter fans thanks to two magical seasons on the Nerazzurri bench which culminated with the treble triumph of Serie A, the Italian Cup and most importantly the Champions League.

He beat Roma to the league title and cup in a battle of former Chelsea managers with Claudio Ranieri, only seeing off his Blues predecessor to the championship on the final day of the 2009-10 season.

“I won’t ever hide that my relationship with Inter is one that will last forever. But I came here to win for Roma and my supporters who today are the Roma supporters.” said Mourinho.

“We didn’t win but apart from the first five minutes I saw a Roma team play well against a team against whom it’s not easy to play well.”

The fans present at the San Siro — in much lower numbers than for the derby — made their feelings very clear about their former boss of bosses.

The hardcore supporters in the Curva Nord unfurled a banner which read “Welcome home Jose” and chanted his name throughout the build-up to kick-off.

Once the teams came out the applause for the home fans hero spread around the stadium, and Mourinho responded by waving and blowing kisses to all four corners of the ground.

Supporters even booed referee Marco Di Bello when he booked Mourinho for protesting at the end of the first half.

With the match underway the Inter players were in no mood to do Mourinho any favours, with Roma old boy Dzeko placing home a beautiful volley from Ivan Perisic’s cross with just over a minute on the clock.

Nicolo Barella then crashed a long-rage drive off the bar before Milan Skriniar headed straight at Rui Patricio from point blank range.

Roma then woke up and after a Rick Karsdorp cross was diverted onto the bar, Nicolo Zaniolo wasted a great chance to level the scores, shooting straight at Samir Handanovic when put one-on-one by Tammy Abraham.

The contest then turned scrappy and not long before the break a tearful Alessandro Bastoni was carried off the pitch after going over on his right ankle, with Inter later saying the defender had twisted it.

Handanovic and Patricio both pulled off impressive stops from distance efforts from Sergio Oliveira and Barella just after the hour mark, but Patricio could do nothing to keep out Sanchez’s rocket which ended the tie in the 68th minute.

All that was left for the Inter fans was to belt out Mourinho’s name one last time and look ahead to a massive week which as well as Napoli away includes the Champions League visit of Liverpool.

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Alexis Sanchez said he felt like a “caged lion” after his last-gasp striker won the Italian Super Cup for Inter Milan in Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 extra-time triumph over old rivals Juventus. With penalties looming at the San Siro Sanchez poked home from close range in the 121st minute of a gruelling contest to hand Simone Inzaghi his first trophy since arriving at Inter to replace Antonio Conte in the summer.

Chile forward Sanchez, who has started just four matches this season, was submerged by celebrating teammates as he charged to the sidelines to celebrate his winner, which came after Lautaro Martinez’s first-half penalty had levelled Weston McKennie’s opener for Juve.

“That’s what great players are like, the more we play, the better we feel,” Sanchez told Mediaset.

“I feel like a caged lion, if they let me play I’m a beast,” he added.

The win continues Inter’s sparkling form, with eight wins from their last eight matches in Serie A, which they lead by a point from city rivals AC Milan.

For Juve meanwhile it was another disappointment in a season which had looked like it was getting on track in recent months after an inconsistent opening.

Martinez could have put Inter ahead within eight minutes when, completely unmarked, he somehow didn’t meet Stefan De Vrij’s header from a corner, and seconds later flashed a first-time effort wide when laid on by Nicolo Barella.

McKennie silenced the Inter fans in the 25th minute when after Alvaro Morata collected on the edge of the area the Spain forward clipped over a cross which was deflected straight into his American teammate’s path.

However Inter were level 10 minutes later thanks to Martinez, who rifled home a precision spot-kick after Edin Dzeko was taken out by Mattia De Sciglio.

Juve started the second half with their tails up but apart from two efforts from Federico Bernardeschi it was Inter who were the dominant team after the break.

They had the best chance to break the deadlock in normal time when Mattia Perin pushed Denzel Dumfries’ close-range header onto the bar just before the hour mark but struggled to create much more danger despite being clearly the better team.

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Inter went close again five minutes into extra-time and again it was Martinez who should have done better, this time heading narrowly wide from Hakan Calhanoglu’s corner.

However with Juve preparing to send on Leonardo Bonucci ahead of spot-kicks, Alex Sandro miscontrolled a cross, allowing Matteo Darmian to nip in and push the ball to Sanchez, who sent the Inter fans into raptures with his simple finish.

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Allegri bemoans late Inter winner: ‘Football was invented by the devil’

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was gutted by his side’s dramatic late defeat to Inter in Wednesday’s Supercoppa Italiana, suggesting it was evidence of the “devil” inventing football.

Inter lifted the first piece of silverware of the Italian season thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win, secured with the final kick of the game at the end of extra time.

Weston McKennie had previously given Juve the lead, before a Lautaro Martinez penalty tied it up.

The two teams would remain level throughout the second half and for much of the additional 30 minutes.

That was until an error from Alex Sandro allowed Matteo Darmian to nudge the ball to Alexis Sanchez, who prodded home from close range to spark joyous celebrations.

It was Juve’s 10th successive appearance in the Supercoppa, which pits the Serie A and Coppa Italia winners from the previous season against each other, but they were unable to claim the trophy.

While Inter’s celebrations showed what the success meant to them, Allegri was philosophical yet frustrated by the last-gasp nature of the Nerazzurri’s win.

“This was a real game tonight,” he is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia. “It was a good test for us to see where we’re at.

“They boys played a really good game, unfortunately football seems to have been invented by the devil, and five seconds from the end we committed an error.

“We played against the strongest team in Serie A, we had several chances and conceded few. We could have avoided the two goals and done better at the beginning, in the first 10 minutes, when they had the upper hand, but then the team played well technically.

“It is a burning defeat – losing five seconds from the end and seeing the others celebrate hurts. I have nothing to blame,

“Now, awareness and anger must enter us to continue well in the league, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

“We have to look on the bright side: the kids are physically better and growing. Tonight did not go well, but now let’s think about Serie A.”

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Inter Milan consolidated their position at the top of Serie A courtesy of a scrappy 1-0 home win over Torino in their final match of 2021.

It has been a year to remember for the Nerazzurri, ending an 11-year wait for the title under Antonio Conte, but Simone Inzaghi’s team could be on the way to repeating the feat.

Denzel Dumfries scored for the third time in four league matches and it was enough to secure another three points – a seventh straight Serie A success.

City rivals AC Milan are up to second and four points behind after winning 4-2 at Empoli.

Franck Kessie netted twice either side of Nedim Bajrami’s equaliser for the hosts, before second-half strikes from Alessandro Florenzi and Theo Hernandez sealed the win, despite Andrea Pinamonti’s late penalty.

Napoli continue to stutter after losing 1-0 at home to struggling Spezia. Juan Jesus’ 37th-minute own goal settled the game and inflicted a third loss in four league games on Luciano Spalletti’s side.

Napoli will begin the new year third in the table and seven points behind Inter.

Dusan Vlahovic ended tied with Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most league goals in a single calendar year as he failed to add to his 33 strikes in Fiorentina’s 1-1 draw at Verona.

Gaetano Castrovilli’s strike in the final 10 minutes earned the Viola a point, cancelling out Kevin Lasagna’s early opener.

Roma had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Stadio Olimpico after Eldor Shomurodov’s opening goal was cancelled out by Manolo Gabbiadini late on to earn Sampdoria a point.

Goals from Pedro, Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto saw Lazio win 3-1 at Venezia, who went into half-time level after Francesco Forte’s equaliser. The hosts finished the match with 10 men after Tanner Tessmann was sent off in stoppage time.

Sassuolo suffered a first defeat in seven league games as they lost 3-0 at home to neighbours Bologna. Riccardo Orsolini, Aaron Hickey and Federico Santander were on the scoresheet for the visitors.

It was the first time Sassuolo had failed to score in 15 games since mid-September.

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Lautaro Martinez at the double as Nerazzurri go top of Serie A

Lautaro Martinez scored twice as Inter went top of Serie A with a commanding 4-0 win over Cagliari at San Siro.

Martinez, who also had a penalty saved, opened the scoring with a first-half header and Alexis Sanchez doubled the lead shortly after the restart.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s thumping 25-yard strike increased the advantage, before Martinez put the icing on the cake by taking his Serie A tally for the season to 10 with a neat finish.

Simone Inzaghi’s side moved a point clear of city rivals Milan at the summit of the table after an eighth win in 10 league meetings with the Rossoblu.

No team have scored more goals from set-pieces than Inter in Serie A this season.

So it was no surprise that the hosts netted another to open the scoring against the side that had conceded the most in the Italian top flight, with Martinez powerfully heading in from Calhanoglu’s corner just before the half-hour mark.

Martinez had a great chance to add a second just before the break after Denzel Dumfries was brought down by Alessio Cragno in the box, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself by guessing correctly to keep out the spot-kick.

Inter doubled their lead within five minutes of the restart as Sanchez neatly guided home Nicolo Barella’s cross on the volley.

Calhanoglu got in on the act 66 minutes in as he beat Cragno with a stunning long-range strike.

Martinez was on target again two minutes later; latching onto Barella’s lofted through ball before slotting in his sixth league goal against Cagliari in seven appearances.

Sanchez rattled the bar late on as the defending champions made an emphatic statement as they rose to the summit.

What does it mean? History beckons for Inter

Inter have now scored 98 Serie A goals in 2021 – just one fewer than their record tally for a calendar year set back in 1950.

The Nerazzurri also recorded their 18th home league of the year – equalling their best tally from 1989 – and will fancy their chances of surpassing those records when they host Torino in their final match of 2021 on December 22.

Martinez on a roll

Argentina international Martinez has found the back of the net in four consecutive Serie A games for the first time since his move to Italy.

Although disappointed not to have made it a hat-trick after his penalty miss, he was a real handful and hit the target with all four of his shots.

Barella drew widespread criticism for the manner of his dismissal in a defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, but redeemed himself with a wonderful performance.

The midfielder provided two delicious assists for Sanchez and Martinez and also recorded game-high tallies of four key passes, 130 touches, 113 attempted passes and 107 successful passes.

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Inter Milan strengthened their Serie A title defence on Sunday with an enthralling 3-2 win over Napoli which moved them to within four points of the league leaders.

Simone Inzaghi’s side came back from Piotr Zielinski’s powerful early strike to close the gap on both Napoli and AC Milan, who lost 4-3 at Fiorentina on Saturday, in a breathless encounter at the San Siro.

Hakan Calhanoglu levelled the scores from the penalty spot midway through the first half and further goals from Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez made sure of the points and made a three-way title race even more interesting.

Napoli, who also scored through Dries Mertens with 11 minutes left, lost their unbeaten league record just as Milan did in Florence after Samir Handanovic pulled off a miracle save to deny Mario Rui’s header in stoppage time.

And Mertens then wasted a gilt-edged chance to snatch an unlikely point when he skied Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s perfect cross, completely unmarked and at point-blank range.

To make matters worse Luciano Spalletti also had to watch two of his Napoli players come off worse in clashes of heads.

Star striker Victor Osimhen had to leave the field just after the break after he and Milan Skriniar thumped into each other.

And goalkeeper David Ospina collapsed to the ground in worrying fashion after his head whacked into Inter substitute Edin Dzeko’s, but both players carried on with their heads bandaged.

David Okereke struck the only goal to earn Venezia a surprise 1-0 win at Bologna on Sunday, their second impressive victory in as many Serie A games.

Nigerian attacker Okereke, on loan at promoted Venezia from Belgian outfit Club Brugge, poked home the winner in the 61st minute to move Venezia up to 13th and six points from the relegation zone.

The 24-year-old’s fourth league goal of the season gave Paolo Zanetti’s side a second straight shock win after also beating Jose Mourinho’s Roma before the international break.

Sampdoria jumped out of the drop zone with a 2-0 win at bottom side Salernitana which came through a Francesco Di Tacchio own goal and a nicely taken finish from Antonio Candreva.

Roberto D’Aversa’s Samp are 16th and sent local rivals Genoa into the bottom three ahead of Andriy Shevchenko’s first match in charge of the club against Roma in Sunday’s late match.

In the early game Sassuolo drew 2-2 with lowly Cagliari, who snatched a point in part thanks to an acrobatic scissor kick from Keita Balde five minutes before half-time.