Stars shining at San Siro as Inter celebrates 20th Serie A title

MILAN (AP) — Before the sun set in Milan on Sunday, San Siro had two stars shining brighter than ever as Inter Milan finally got its title celebrations underway.

While Inter fans had been celebrating since last month when the Nerazzurri secured the Serie A title with five rounds remaining, the players finally got their hands on the trophy after the final home match of the season — a 1-1 draw against Lazio.

The title was Inter’s 20th, earning it a coveted second star and after the match all the players wore special team shirts that had “20” and two stars on the back. They were each called out individually to walk to the stage and get their medals, with Lautaro Martinez coming out last — after coach Simone Inzaghi.

The Inter captain then lifted the trophy up to cheers from a still-packed San Siro as fireworks were set off behind them.

The players paraded the trophy around the edge of the field and were joined by their close friends and family, who had been waiting in an area sectioned off for them near the stage.

The father of Inter forward Marcus Thuram was also present, proudly wearing an Inter shirt — albeit back-to-front so that his son’s name was on his chest. Lilian Thuram, who won the World Cup with France in 1998, played as a defender for Parma and Juventus.

Musicians and Inter fans Tananai and Ligabue performed a mini concert.

Even questions over the financial status of the club couldn’t dampen the spirits. There are reports that Suning and Inter President Steven Zhang could lose control of the club early next week if it fails to repay a debt of nearly 400 million euros ($434 million) to American investment fund Oaktree.

“This is a matter for our shareholders … I can only guarantee that the club is very solid and, with Zhang at the helm we have followed a virtuous path on a balance sheet level,” Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said. “I would challenge anyone to check by looking at our accounts.

“Whatever decision the Zhang family takes, it will be for the good of the club that they love.”

The festivities started before kickoff as there was a spectacular pre-match choreography that covered every inch of the stands at San Siro to mark the occasion.

One side of the stadium had two stars on it and the Scudetto symbol, while the other spelled out the phrase “champions of Italy.” The ends had the Inter logo and the number 20.

Denzel Dumfries headed in a free kick late on to rescue a draw for Inter after Daichi Kamada had fired Lazio in front in the first half.


Sassuolo was relegated from Serie A after 11 years in the Italian top flight.

A 2-0 loss at home to Cagliari doomed Sassuolo to Serie B and ensured Claudio Ranieri’s team stayed up.

Cagliari moved three points clear of the relegation zone with one round remaining, but two of the teams below it – Udinese and Frosinone – play each other on the final day.


There are four teams at risk of finishing in 18th spot and following Sassuolo and bottom club Salernitana – which was mathematically relegated last month – into Serie B.

Empoli currently occupies that spot after conceding an equalizer in the 14th minute of stoppage time in a 1-1 at Udinese.

Empoli thought it had got a valuable win against a direct rival for safety when M’Baye Niang converted a penalty in the final minute after Nicolò Cambiaghi was tripped by Udinese midfielder Lazar Samardžić.

However, deep in stoppage time Samardžić went from villain to hero by converting another spot kick to ensure Udinese remained a point above the bottom three.

Empoli replaced Frosinone, which moved two points clear with a 1-0 win at Monza.

Hellas Verona is the other team not yet safe but it has a match in hand, against Salernitana on Monday.


Roma beat Genoa 1-0 to secure a sixth-place finish in Serie A and keep alive its slim hopes of sneaking into the Champions League.

Italy could have six teams in Europe’s elite competition next season if Atalanta defeats unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final on Wednesday. Roma has three more points than seventh-place Lazio but a better head-to-head record which is the first tiebreaker in Serie A.

Roma’s chances of getting something from Sunday’s match appeared to diminish in the 72nd minute when Leandro Paredes was booked for dissent and then shown a second yellow and sent off for appearing to swear at the referee.

However, Romelu Lukaku headed in what proved to be the winner seven minutes later.


AP soccer:

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