AC Milan and Juventus take final two Champions League placesMay 24, 2021
Seven-time European champion AC Milan is back in the Champions League after an eight-year break. And Juventus also narrowly qualified on the final night of Serie A on Sunday.
Two penalties from Franck Kessie helped Milan to a 2-0 win at Atalanta, which had already claimed a top-four spot along with Serie A champion Inter Milan.
“We showed that we deserved second place,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “We were near the top all season.”
Juventus won 4-1 at Bologna with two goals from Alvaro Morata plus scores from Federico Chiesa and Adrien Rabiot.
Still, Juventus needed help and got it when Hellas Verona held Napoli to a 1-1 draw, leaving Napoli in fifth place.
Amir Rrahmani had put Napoli ahead on the hour mark but Davide Faraoni quickly equalized for Verona.
When Juventus’ game finished a few moments earlier, Bianconeri players watched the final moments of the Napoli-Verona match on the touchline before they could celebrate.
Inter won the title eventually by 12 points ahead of Milan, with Atalanta and Juventus both a further point adrift.
But Juventus could face sanctions from UEFA including a potential ban from the Champions League for failing to renounce its role in the the breakaway Super League that collapsed within 48 hours of its launch last month.
Juventus ends with a title still after beating Atalanta in the Italian Cup final.
“It was important to finish the job well by winning the Italian Cup and bringing the squad into the Champions League,” Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said.
Still, Pirlo’s status remains a question mark after Juve’s run of nine straight Serie A titles was ended.
“I’ve always given 100% for the squad and this is the final result,” Pirlo said. “Then I’ll leave the floor to whoever will decide.”
Milan set a new league record with its 16th away win of the season. It also matched the top mark in Europe’s top-five leagues after Real Madrid in 2011-12 and Manchester City in 2017-18 also each won 16 on the road.
Roma came back from two goals down against Spezia for a 2-2 draw to take seventh place and a spot in the new Europa Conference League for incoming coach Jose Mourinho.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalized for Roma after Daniele Verde and Tommaso Pobega had put Spezia ahead.
Sassuolo, which finished eighth, beat Lazio 2-0 with goals from Giorgos Kyriakopoulos and Domenico Berardi despite finishing with 10 men after Kyriakopoulos picked up his second yellow.
Lazio was already assured of finishing sixth and will go into the Europa League with Napoli.
Also, Torino and already-relegated Benevento drew 1-1.
Inter got its title party started by crushing Udinese 5-1 in the final round.
Inter had clinched the title earlier in the month but there was an award ceremony on the field after its final match, with captain Samir Handanovic lifting the trophy to huge cheers from inside and outside the stadium.
There were 1,000 invited guests allowed into San Siro as friends and family and 4,500 fans outside in an allocated area. Hundreds of them had started gathering hours before the team arrived, carrying flags and setting off flares while chanting songs to celebrate Inter’s first Serie A title in 11 years.
After the celebrations on the field, the players went to one of San Siro’s iconic towers to continue the party with the fans below.
Fans have been banned from matches in Italy for the majority of the past year because of the coronavirus pandemic, apart from a brief period shortly after the start of the season when up to 1,000 spectators were allowed into stadiums.
Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen set Inter on the way to victory with first-half goals. Lautaro Martinez converted a penalty 10 minutes after the break with Ivan Perisic and Romelu Lukaku also scoring to add to the festive atmosphere.
Roberto Pereyra netted a late penalty for Udinese.