Football Italia Diary: Milan win title, Roma’s European glory

Milan clinched the Serie A title in style on the last day, while Salernitana remarkably avoided relegation and Roma won their first-ever European trophy. Check out May’s best stories for Italian football.

Inter won the Coppa Italia in a classic final against Juventus, while the Bianconeri said goodbye to club icon Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala.

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne made an emotional farewell as both José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti created European history in an action-packed May.

Milan win the Scudetto on the final day of the season and all the Serie A verdicts

Milan captured the Scudetto as the title race was decided in a thrilling last day finale.

The Rossoneri claimed a first league victory in 11 years as they dismissed Sassuolo in an emphatic three-goal away victory on May 22.

Around 18,000 Milan Tifosi filled the Mapei Stadium in what resembled a home game for Stefano Pioli’s side and they duly delivered the victory required to seal a 19th Serie A crown.

Olivier Giroud struck twice and Franck Kessié, who played his final game for the club, added another in a dominant first half to spark feverish celebrations from the Rossoneri fans.

Serie A | Sassuolo 0-3 Milan: Rossoneri dominate Scudetto decider

It was the first last day showdown in 12 years as Milan ended a long barren run to finish above rivals Inter at the table summit.

Inspired by Portuguese winger Rafael Leão the seven-time European champions held a two-point advantage as they entered the month of May and never relinquished it.

Milan win Scudetto: Pioli and five key players behind success

Leão struck late as Milan overcame Fiorentina at home and the Rossoneri recovered after going a goal down at Hellas Verona to clinch a spirited win thanks to a Sandro Tonali double and a rare goal from substitute Alessandro Florenzi.

Left-back Theo Hernández scored a goal of the season contender with a long mazy run from inside his own half after Leão netted the opener as Milan defeated Atalanta in front of a full house of 73,000 at San Siro.

The epic final day victory prompted a pitch invasion in which Pioli had his winner’s medal stolen, although thankfully, it was returned by the dull-witted supporters who shared their plunder live on social media.

Milan boss Pioli reunited with stolen Serie A winner’s medal

 

Thousands of Milan fans gathered as an open-top bus parade snaked through the Piazza del Duomo as fireworks and flares surrounded the city’s magnificent cathedral.

Inter were left to ponder what might have been and pushed Milan all the way with four victories in May.

The Nerazzurri won away at Udinese, came back from two down to claim a spectacular 4-2 victory against Empoli at San Siro and defeated Cagliari 3-1 in Sardinia before the last game of the campaign. Despite a comfortable three-goal stroll against Sampdoria, they had to settle for second place.

Napoli recorded a trio of wins to finish third, claiming victory at Torino and firing three past Genoa in an emotional send-off for captain Lorenzo Insigne in a game which featured a wondergoal from midfielder Stanislav Lobotka. Crowd trouble marred a 3-0 win at Spezia as the Partenopei rounded off the campaign comfortably enough.

Juventus claimed the final Champions League spot in fourth in what was a rare trophyless season. May was a month to write off for the Bianconeri as they fell to shock defeats away at Genoa and Fiorentina.

Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini and forward Paulo Dybala played their final matches for the Old Lady in a 2-2 draw with Lazio in Turin.

Lazio qualified for the Europa League as Maurizio Sarri guided them to fifth place ahead of city rivals Roma in sixth.

Fiorentina were rewarded for an impressive season under coach Vincenzo Italiano by gaining entry to the Europa Conference League as they finished seventh in the Classifica.

Atalanta missed out on Europe for the first time in five years as they concluded an underwhelming campaign in eighth, while Hellas Verona parted company with coach Igor Tudor despite the Croatian leading the club to ninth in the table.

Unsurprisingly Milan players were recognised in the League’s end of season awards as Mike Maignan was voted best goalkeeper and Leão’s emergence as a bona fide star earned him the most valuable player prize.

Torino’s in-demand Brazilian Bremer was named the top defender, Inter’s Marcelo Brozović the League leading midfielder and Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile of Lazio the best striker. Napoli attacker Victor Osimhen was crowned the finest young player after an excellent campaign for the Partenopei.

Salernitana stay up, Lecce, Cremonese and Monza promoted

Salernitana completed a miraculous escape to beat the drop despite going down to a four-goal thrashing on the final day of the season at home to Udinese.

The Granata finished just a point clear of Cagliari, who slumped to a dismal goalless stalemate at Venezia and were relegated as a result.

Serie A | Salernitana 0-4 Udinese: Granata safe despite drubbing

 

Salernitana looked consigned to Serie B until the appointment of Davide Nicola as coach in February and finished the campaign strongly despite a disappointing last match at a packed Arechi Stadium.

The intense motivational methods of Nicola paid off as Salernitana gained vital away draws at Atalanta and Empoli in games where they created more than enough chances to win. An uplifting 2-1 home victory against relegation rivals Venezia on May 5 helped the Granata stay above the drop zone and they followed it up by picking up another crucial point at home to Cagliari.

The Sardinian club limply relinquished their place in the top tier in an abysmal month of missed opportunities. Walter Mazzarri was sacked on May 2 and Primavera coach Alessandro Agostini was put in temporary charge until the conclusion of the season.

Cagliari required a single goal at Venezia to keep their place in Serie A as Udinese coasted to victory in Salerno. Yet they barely mustered a shot on target and dropped down to Serie B after six terms in the top flight.

Genoa were also demoted after losing heavily at Napoli as city rivals Sampdoria stayed up.

The Grifone clinched a memorable 2-1 victory over Juventus on May 6, but it proved futile as they slipped to the second tier after 15 years in Serie A.

Albert Guðmundsson cancelled out Paulo Dybala’s opener and a penalty from captain Domenico Criscito with the last kick of the ball six minutes into added on time sent the Marassi into raptures. Criscito had missed a penalty as Samp claimed the bragging rights in the Derby della Lanterna but regardless of the emotional win Genoa ultimately could not save themselves after a largely dismal campaign.

Venezia’s relegation was confirmed as they finished bottom of the table, although the Lagunari did show signs of life at the end of May, defeating Bologna 4-3 and drawing with Roma and Cagliari in games of little consequence.

Lecce and Cremonese earn promotion to Serie A

Lecce were crowned champions of Serie B after a wonderful campaign in which they lost only five of 38 games to seal promotion to the highest level of Italian football.

The Puglian club returned to Serie A after two seasons in the second tier while Cremonese finished second ahead of Monza and Pisa to clinch a historic promotion.

Cremonese last played in Italy’s top division 26 years ago and will finally have the chance to take on the best in the country after a considerable top-flight absence.

Silvio Berlusconi owned Monza sealed promotion to Serie A for the first time in their 110-year history after an epic 6-4 aggregate play-off victory over two legs against Pisa.

 

Berlusconi’s Monza promoted to Serie A after seven-goal thriller

 

Monza edged the first tie 2-1 at Stadio Brianteo but were two goals down to Pisa after 10 minutes in the return leg.

The Arena Garibaldi was rocking as the home fans turned up the volume but Monza struck twice to make it 2-2 with just 12 minutes remaining. Pisa netted a dramatic last minute equaliser to take the game into extra-time but veteran Luca Marrone and Danish forward Christian Gytkjær struck to ensure Monza make a first ever appearance in Serie A next season.

Inter claim the Coppa Italia

Croatian wing-back Ivan Perišić struck twice in extra-time as Inter registered a 4-2 victory to overcome Juventus in a gripping Coppa Italia final.

A packed Stadio Oimpico was treated to an incredible match which featured stunning goals and controversial penalty decisions.

Inter defeated Juve to capture the Italian Supercup in January and prevailed again in a riveting Derby d’Italia encounter in Rome.

Coppa Italia Final | Juventus 2-4 Inter aet: Thrilling Nerazzurri triumph

Italy midfielder Nicolò Barella curled in a magnificent strike from outside the penalty area after just six minutes to send Inter in front.

The Bianconeri roared back and only a superb reaction stop from Inter shot-stopper Samir Handanović denied Dušan Vlahović an equaliser.

In a campaign of woeful goalkeeping mistakes Handanović played a big part in Alex Sandro’s leveller. The Slovenian somehow allowed the Brazilian defender’s tame effort to bounce off his body and into the net as the Old Lady restored parity 10 minutes after the break.

Juve surged ahead just two minutes later when Paulo Dybala released Vlahović and the Serbian slammed home after his first effort rebounded off the face of the hapless Handanović.

Remarkably, the drama was far from over. The Nerrazzurri made it 2-2 when Hakan Çalhanoğlu fired confidently into the top corner via the post from the penalty spot after Leonardo Bonucci was ruled to have fouled Lautaro Martínez.

Inter held their nerve in extra-time in a rousing end to the 75th final of the Coppa Italia.

Bianconeri defender Matthijs de Ligt collided with Dutch compatriot Stefan de Vrij in the box and after some deliberation, a penalty was awarded by referee Paolo Valeri.

Perišić – who joined Tottenham Hotspur after the season concluded – sent Mattia Perin the wrong way from the spot and then unleashed a searing left-foot half-volley from the edge of the area to seal a brilliant victory.

It was all too much for Juve coach Max Allegri who was red carded following an altercation with Inter assistant manager Massimiliano Farris on the touchline.

 

Raging Allegri sent off during touchline row with Inter staff

 

Farewells and departures: Chiellini, Insigne and Dybala

Legendary defender Giorgio Chiellini made an emotional last appearance for Juventus before departing the Turin club.

The 37-year-old was substituted in the 17th minute of the Bianconeri’s 2-2 draw against Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on May 16, a symbolic time to honour 17 hugely successful seasons with the Old Lady.

Chiellini won an incredible nine consecutive Serie A titles with Juve and was given a lavish send-off in his final appearance.

An inspirational leader who often shed blood for the Juventus cause, he was given a guard of honour by team-mates and the Juventus women’s squad as well as a video tribute which showed all the highlights of a wonderful career with the Bianconeri.

The versatile defender made a total of 561 appearances and scored 36 goals for the club.

Juve Tifosi displayed their affection for both Chiellini and Paulo Dybala, who also played his final game for the Bianconeri.

The Argentinian, who has been linked with both Inter and Roma, was in tears as he signed autographs and collected scarves from grateful fans after the final whistle. Striker Dybala departs the Turin giants after seven terms in which he won the Scudetto five times.

Juve management booed, Dybala in tears: what happened during Chiellini’s farewell

 

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne was given a moving send off as he featured in his last match for his home town club at Stadio Diego Maradona.

The 30-year-old stunned the Calcio world when he agreed to join Major League Soccer side Toronto FC in January. Yet a tear-filled capacity crowd of 54,000 Neapolitans turned out to show their appreciation for the winger who spent 11 seasons at the club.

Insigne gave a touching speech and was presented with a huge trophy before Napoli’s last home game of the campaign on May 15.

The Partenopei delivered a fitting performance, putting three goals past Genoa, including a re-taken penalty which Insigne gleefully converted.

Insigne stayed on long after the final whistle to salute the Napoli faithful, as thousands remained in the stadium to pay their respects to a unique attacking talent who won the Coppa Italia twice in 2014 and 2020 with the Campania club.

Serie A | Napoli 3-0 Genoa: Insigne nets on final farewell

Roma win Europa Conference League and Ancelotti makes history with Real Madrid

The Giallorossi won the first ever Europa Conference League as Nicolò Zaniolo’s first half goal was enough to defeat Feyenoord at the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana.

Zaniolo provided one of the few highlights in an instantly forgettable final as he displayed great technique to superbly control and flick into the net on 32 minutes.

Roma had Man Of The Match Chris Smalling to thank as the English central defender delivered on the big stage with a heroic performance.

Conference League Final | Roma 1-0 Feyenoord: Zaniolo wins first European trophy

 

It was a historic achievement in many regards. Roma claimed a first win in a UEFA sanctioned competition (they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1961) and became the first Italian club in 12 years to claim a European trophy.

It also marked a milestone for ultra-successful coach José Mourinho as he picked up a record fifth European title as coach. The Portuguese also became the first coach to win all major European competitions (UEFA Cup and Champions League at Porto in 2003 and 2004, Champions League with Inter in 2010 and Europa League at Manchester United in 2017) in the process and the special one celebrated Roma’s victory with gusto.

Video: Mourinho drives Roma bus, forgets goalkeeper coach

 

Instead of parking the bus, Mourinho attempted to drive the Roma team bus before a memorable celebratory parade in front of thousands of Giallorossi fans which passed by the iconic Colosseum in the Eternal City.

Meanwhile, former Juventus, Milan and Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti also made history of his own by becoming the first coach to win the Champions League four times.

The 62-year-old Italian tactician guided Real Madrid to victory against Liverpool in a tense final in Paris. Brazilian striker Vinícius Júnior claimed the only goal in a match notable for a goalkeeping masterclass from Thibaut Courtois.

Ancelotti makes Champions League history for Real Madrid

Ancelotti had previously won Europe’s premier competition as coach with Milan in 2003 and 2007 and at Real Madrid in 2014. As a player the versatile midfielder was part of the great Milan side which swept all before them in the European Cup. He picked up winner’s medals in 1989 and 1990 finals as Arrigo Sacchi masterminded a period of incomparable Milan dominance as they claimed consecutive titles.

@SKasiewicz

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