MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan won its first Serie A title in more than a decade after second-place Atalanta drew 1-1 at Sassuolo on Sunday.
The city of Milan erupted into a cacophony of car horns after the final whistle confirmed Inter as champion, with four matches to spare, and fans immediately started gathering in the main square in front of the cathedral to celebrate.
Thousands of Nerazzurri fans congregated in Piazza Duomo, with flags and scarves, chanting and singing as they jumped and clapped with little heed to coronavirus restrictions. Almost all wore masks but many were pulled down below their chins.
They also set off flares and fireworks.
It was Inter’s first trophy since 2011 and the first Serie A title since 2010, when it claimed the treble of the league, Champions League and Italian Cup.
“We are, yes, we are. Champions of Italy. We can finally scream it, after dreaming of it, after keeping it hidden in the depths of our hearts, after holding on to it like a precious dream that we did not want to waste,” read a lengthy statement on the Inter website. “We wear this Scudetto. Beautiful, emphatic, deserved. Long-awaited and yearned for.
“A team that represents an entire population, the Nerazzurri. A team that has won, that has dominated. With only one big regret: not being able to share the joys on the pitch with the Nerazzurri fans.”
Fans have been banned from matches in Italy for most of the last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Inter ended Juventus’ grip on the league crown. Inter coach Antonio Conte led Juventus to the first three of its nine successive Serie A titles but ended that run in his second season in charge of the Nerazzurri.
Juventus was one of the first teams to congratulate its bitter rival on social media while Bianconeri president Andrea Agnelli also posted a message of congratulations to Inter counterpart Steven Zhang.
“Well done Steven! Happy for you and proud of being your loyal opponent on the pitch and friend off the pitch,” Agnelli wrote on Twitter.
“We’ll be back…”
Inter became the first foreign-owned team to win Serie A. Chinese group Suning took over the club in 2016.
After Inter won 2-0 at Crotone on Saturday, Atalanta was the only team that could possibly catch Conte’s side and needed to win to do so.
But its chances diminished dramatically when a moment of madness from goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini saw him race out of his area and knock over Sassuolo midfielder Jérémie Boga, earning himself a straight red card in the 23rd minute and leaving his side with 10 men for most of the match.
Robin Gosens scored for Atalanta nine minutes later but Domenico Berardi leveled from the penalty spot early in the second half after Rafael Tolói was adjudged to have pushed over Hamed Junior Traorè.
Sassuolo also gave away a penalty and had a man sent off late on when defender Marlon was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Luis Muriel. But former Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli saved Muriel’s spot kick.
Both sides also had goals ruled out for offside.
The result could also dent Atalanta’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League. It is level on points with AC Milan and two above fourth-place Napoli, which was held to a 1-1 draw by Cagliari. Fifth-place Juventus is three points behind Atalanta and visits Udinese later.