AC Milan claim 18th Serie A title

Updated: 08 May 2011 09:28 IST

AC Milan claimed an 18th Serie A title following a 0-0 draw at Roma on Saturday that gave them an unassailable lead at the top of the table with two games to go.

AC Milan claim 18th Serie A title

Rome:

AC Milan claimed an 18th Serie A title following a 0-0 draw at Roma on Saturday that gave them an unassailable lead at the top of the table with two games to go. (Also Read: 'Two games key to title success')


Milan came into the game knowing they needed only a draw to be sure of winning the scudetto crown and they never looked in danger of failing to do so.

The draw pushed their lead over second-placed Inter Milan, who still have three to play, to nine points but with a better head-to-head record, the rosssoneri cannot now be overtaken.

And the title is all the sweeter for Milan who have put an end to their arch rivals Inter's run of five straight league crowns.

Coach Massmiliano Allegri was understandably delighted at having landed the title in his first season at the club and even claimed that club president and Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised him new signings in the summer.

"I want to thank the players first of all and then the president who gave me such a great squad," said Allegri.

"It's very satisfying to win in my first year. In the future we need to improve a team that is already strong. But the president has said that he will give us a present and we're all happy."

This was far from a vintage performance but Milan produced the kind of calm and controlled display necessary to get just what they needed.

They created little themselves but they did come the closest to scoring and gave Roma very little to work with.

The true damage had already been done in the last two months when 3-0 victories at home to their nearest two rivals - Inter and Napoli - consistently kept the competition at bay.

For Roma the point did little to help their chances of securing a top four finish and Champions League football next season.

They are level with Lazio and a point ahead of Udinese - with those two due to play eachother in Udine on Sunday.

"I hope they both lose," joked Roma coach Vincenzo Montella. "In this league every game is decided on the pitch, you don't win beforehand.

"If we get one point and another team gets three, then we could have done better, but there's not guarantee anyone else will win."

Milan produced a neat passing move on 10 minutes with Clarence Seedorf setting up Kevin-Prince Boateng, who fired high and wide.

Up the other end Rodrigo Taddei flashed a speculative effort wide of the far post.

The chance of the half came on 14 minutes.

Marco Cassetti skipped past Gianluca Zambrotta, dinked the ball to the back post where Ignazio Abate mis-timed his jump and Mirko Vucinic opted to take it down on his chest only for Christian Abbiati to spread himself well to smother his volley.

Roma had possibly the better of the chances as early substitute Aleandro Rosi crossed for Vucinic who hadn't committed himself, allowing Alessandro Nesta to whisk the ball clear.

Rosi then hit a low shot that Abbiati got down to at his near post.

Robinho was quick to wake everyone from their slumber in the first minute of the second half as he curled a shot against the post after Abate had driven at a hesitant Roma defence.

Up the other end Simplicio dragged wide a shot from 20 yards.

On the hour Milan carved Roma open with Massimo Ambrosini chipping the ball over the backline but Boateng's shot drifted agonisingly just past the far post.

Moments later goalkeeper Doni parried Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fierce free-kick with a Juan flailing himself in front of Seedorf to block the follow-up.

Roma finally started to show some signs of urgency as the game wound down but it was too little too late and Milan held on comfortably.

Five key matches that were key to AC Milan's 18th Serie A title success, secured on Saturday following a 0-0 draw at Roma:

AC Milan 1 Genoa 0, September 25, 2010

- Milan had got off to a sluggish start, picking up just five points and one win from their first four games. They were in dire need of a kick-start to their season and it came from a moment of brilliance by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in an otherwise tight game. Running on to a ball over the top, Ibrahimovic was not favourite to get to it first but he used his incredible flexibility from his taekwondo training to stretch out his leg at shoulder height to reach the ball before a defender and flick a lob over goalkeeper Eduardo. Milan's tricky spell was over and it was the first of four straight wins.

AC Milan 3 Palermo 1, November 10, 2010

- In another even game, Milan came out on top thanks to their more clinical finishing and went top of the table for the first time. It was a position they would never relinquish. Pato had given then a first half lead only for Armin Bacinovic to equalise for the Sicilians just after the hour mark. But not for the first or last time, Milan came on strong late on and an Ibrahimovic penalty and a goal from Robinho in the final 13 minutes sent the rossoneri to the Serie A summit.

AC Milan 3 Napoli 0, February 28, 2011

- Surprise package Napoli were second in Serie A and could have drawn level with Milan at the top with victory. Walter Mazzarri's side were in great form coming into this game and many saw it as a crucial test for both sides. But three goals in the second half, dominated by Milan, showed they were not going to give the pretenders a sniff. Ibrahimovic opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pato added two late goals to secure three points and open up a five-point lead to Inter.

AC Milan 3 Inter Milan 0, April 2, 2011

- This was the one time more than any other this season when Milan were under pressure. They came into the match off the back of one point in their previous two games and with Inter just two points behind and on a charge. Victory would have put Inter top while Milan appeared in disarray. A home draw to rock bottom Bari and defeat at out-of-sorts Palermo meant they came into the game off the back of possibly their worst two results of the season. In truth they were helped by a dream start in which Pato mopped up a loose ball in the first minute after Julio Cesar had denied Robinho. Things went from bad to worse for Inter when Cristian Chivu was sent-off for bringing down Pato in the second half. Pato added a second to as good as kill the game before Antonio Cassano notched a last minute penalty.

Roma 0 AC Milan 0, May 7, 2011


- Milan reached the final three games of the season knowing they needed only one point to secure the title and they didn't hang about. They arrived in Rome to play a team fighting for a place in next season's Champions League. But the rossoneri hardly gave their hosts a sniff and produced a controlled, if unspectacular, performance to get exactly what they needed. It was far from their best performance of the season but it was the one that got them over the line.

As AC Milan landed an 18th Serie A crown with two games to spare, these were the players who stood out throughout the 2010/11 season:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (29 games/14 goals) -- The big Sweden forward has a remarkable record when it comes to league titles. This was his eighth in a row and ninth in total with five different clubs across three countries, according to the 29-year-old. Unfortunately for Ibrahimovic two of those were stripped from Juventus for match-fixing in 2005 and 2006 meaning this was only his fifth in a row and sixth in total. But that doesn't change the fact that the team he has played for has finished top of the pile for the last eight seasons. When he was at Juventus, they were considered the best in Italy, likewise with Inter Milan and now Milan. He was also part of title-winning sides at Ajax and Barcelona. And what Ibrahimovic brings was in evidence again this season as time and again he made the difference when his team appeared to be struggling. Ibra has weighed in with a number of winning goals and crucial assists and has been one of the main reasons Milan have scraped victories where their rivals stumbled.

Thaigo Silva (31/1) -- In his second season at the club the Brazilian centre-back has been a tower of strength. While Milan's gap in terms of points at the top suggests superiority, up front they have been no more prolific than Inter Milan or even Udinese. The real difference was at the back where Milan have by far the best defensive record. And the rock upon which everything else was built was undoubtedly Silva. Big, strong, quick, committed and willing to get forward, Silva has proved he can do it all, even appearing in midfield when needed on occasions. And at 26 he has many more seasons left in him and could be set to cement himself as the natural successor to Alessandro Nesta, continuing a great tradition of rossoneri centre-backs including the likes of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi.

Alessandro Nesta (26/0) -- In a team based around a solid defence it is hardly surprising that a second defender should be chosen as a key player. Nesta has been crucial once again. He himself admits he cannot play in every game and he is expecting to appear even less frequently next season. But it has been his experience and calming influence that has helped bring out the best in Thiago Silva and accelerate the Brazilian's learning curve. Nesta has also been vital due to a lack of top drawer alternatives. Greek international Sokratis Papastathopoulos quickly looked out of his depth, Mario Yepes has a reputation for being rash while Daniele Bonera has never looked more than a makeshift centre-back when he's played there. Nicola Legrottaglie was added in January to provide nothing more than extra cover. And so it has fallen on Nesta to keep his remarkable career going and ensure that alongside Silva, Milan's defence has remained rarely breached, allowing their talented forwards to snatch victories at the other end.

Kevin-Prince Boateng (25/3) -- A few eyebrows were raised when Milan plumped for the Ghana midfielder in the summer. Many suggested the signing was evidence that the club was dropping down a level in terms of the quality they could attract. While seen as a good, solid, professional, Boateng was not thought to be worthy of a club of the stature of Milan. However, the German-born player has tackled the task with great gusto. And despite a few less than impressive performances early on, his energy and commitment has proved valuable in a team that was otherwise thought to be aging. What's more, with Andrea Pirlo out injured throughout much of the season, coach Massimiliano Allegri converted Boateng into an effective trequartista, creating chances more through determination than flair, but effective nonetheless.



Topics : Football Roma AC Milan
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