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Inter Milan seal Scudetto in derby thriller with AC Milan

Football
 Inter Milan players and back room staff celebrate winning the Seria A title.[Inter Milan]

Inter Milan sealed the Serie A title on Monday after beating AC Milan 2-1 and creating an unassailable lead at the top of the league with their sixth straight derby victory.

Goals from Francesco Acerbi and Marcus Thuram gave Inter a 17-point advantage over closest challengers Milan and secured their 20th league crown with five matches of the season remaining.

Inter last won Serie A in 2021, followed by AC Milan in 2022 and Napoli last year.

For Simone Inzaghi it was the first league title as a manager and on a cold, soaking wet evening at the San Siro he strode proudly in front of a clutch of Inter's "away" fans in the 75,000 crowd as they roared in delight and fired fireworks from the stands at the final whistle.

Milan made a fight of it in the final moments after Fikayo Tomori pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining but Inter held out to kick off a title party after a stormy ending to the match which featured three red cards.

"I feel like crying because we worked so hard, we deserve this joy," said tearful captain Lautaro Martinez.

"It's been wonderful but we have to keep going because we've already won a lot of trophies and we want to win many more."

Inter have become the second team to win 20 Italian league titles, and will have a second star stitched onto their jersey, after Juventus who are way out in the lead with 36 league crowns.

In style

Inzaghi's team did it style, laying waste to the rest of the division and becoming the first team to claim the title by winning the Milan derby and leaving his opposite number Pioli on the verge of the sack.

"He was struggling 14 months ago according to the media and look what he has achieved since. I am happy here, I work well and I think the team has margin for improvement," insisted 2022 Scudetto winner Pioli.

With outgoing champions Napoli crashing and burning early in the campaign and Milan falling away in the autumn Inter raced off into the distance at the turn of the year.

Juve looked like putting up a fight but they collapsed in February just as Inter strung together a run of 13 wins which also gave them hope of repeating a deep run in the Champions League.

Inter failed in that mission as they were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in mid-March, but by that time the domestic damage had already been done.

The future looks bright too as Inzaghi, Martinez and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella are all set to renew their contracts while smart work in the transfer market and increased revenue have helped mitigate significant financial harm wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Piotr Zielinski and Mehdi Taremi will arrive from Napoli and Porto as free agents in the close season while big stars like Thuram should stay.

"Crazy feeling, crazy game. We wanted to do it for our fans and we did it. It's my first league title and I'm very proud of it," said Thuram.

The nominal away side on Monday, Inter were on their way to a title party in the 18th minute when Acerbi was left completely free to head home Benjamin Pavard's flick-on.

Stormy finish

Inter should have been two ahead seven minutes later through Lautaro Martinez who lost his footing when Federico Dimarco's perfect cut-back fell to the Argentina striker.

And his strike partner Thuram was equally at fault for Inter not increasing their lead seven minutes before the break as he shot a great chance just wide after being set up by Nicolo Barella.

But shortly after half-time Thuram made up for that miss with a brilliant individual goal which took his tally for his debut Serie A season to 12.

France forward Thuram collected Alessandro Bastoni's long pass on the left and eventually cut inside before drilling home at Mike Maignan's near post.

Yann Sommer did well to keep out Theo Hernandez's well-struck shot as Milan fans let go a barrage of flares in the stands.

The resulting smoke mixed with the persistent rain to create an misty atmosphere around the San Siro, and just as Inter looked set to see the match out Tomori made sure it would be a grandstand finish when he headed home on the rebound.

However instead of levelling the match Milan lost their heads, with both Theo Hernandez and Davide Calabria receiving straight red cards in stoppage time.

Inter's Denzel Dumfries was also sent off in the closing minutes, but that will matter less to his team who danced and bounced in front of joyous fans.

 

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