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Conte hails Inter's Serie A win as one of his 'most important successes' while Ajax wrap up Dutch title

Inter can celebrate after nearest rivals Atalanta were held 1-1 at Sassuolo.

Antonio Conte celebrates with Romelu Lukaku after last week's win.
Antonio Conte celebrates with Romelu Lukaku after last week's win.
Image: Antonio Calanni

Updated Sun 8:01 PM

ANTONIO CONTE HAILED Inter Milan’s first Serie A triumph since 2010 on Sunday as “one of the most important successes” of his career.

Inter clinched their 19th Scudetto after nearest rivals Atalanta drew 1-1 at Sassuolo.

Conte lifted the Italian title on three occasions as Juventus coach and won the Premier League as Chelsea boss in 2018.

“This is one of the most important successes of my career,” the 51-year-old told Italian television station Rai.

“Deciding to join Inter was not easy, just when the team was not equipped to win immediately. Furthermore, the opponent was Juventus for whom I had worked for a long time, who had dominated for nine years. Today we can say that our sacrifices have paid off.”

The former Italy coach pinpointed Inter’s humiliating Champions League group stage exit in December as paving the way for their success.

Since then they stepped up a gear in the league and lost just one game.

“The key moment of the season was when we came out of the Champions League, when we were inundated with a sea of criticism, all too excessive,” said Conte.

“We were good at using those criticisms, transforming the negative into the positive, also because this group was not used to winning,” he added.

Atalanta played most of their match against Sassuolo a man down after goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini saw red after 22 minutes in the Mapei Stadium.

Luis Muriel missed a late penalty that could have given Atalanta a win that would have put Inter’s celebrations on hold, but the second-placed Bergamo side are now 13 points behind Inter with four games remaining.

Inter, who beat Crotone 2-0 on Saturday, needed Atalanta to drop points in Emilia-Romagna to claim the title.

Juventus have been denied a 10th straight league title and are now fighting for a Champions League spot, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring two late goals to rescue a 2-1 win at Udinese on Sunday.

Juve’s win moves them up to third as they target a Champions League spot, but are equal on 69 points with second-placed Atalanta and AC Milan in fourth.

Juventus had trailed for most of the game in Udine after Nahuel Molina put Udinese ahead in the 10th minutes, blasting in off a quickly taken Rodrigo De Paul free kick while Juventus players were still protesting.

Ronaldo brought Juventus level with seven minutes to go after De Paul conceded a penalty for handball from a Ronaldo free kick, with the Portuguese forward making no mistake from the penalty spot.

Four minutes later he grabbed the winner when he headed home an Adrien Rabiot cross with relieved coach Andrea Pirlo racing to join the celebrations.

Ronaldo brings his Serie A-leading tally to 27 goals, six more than Inter’s Romelu Lukaku.

In Emilia-Romagna, Robin Gosens scored 10 minutes after Collini’s sending off for bringing down Jeremie Boga. Domenico Berardi pulled Sassuolo level from the penalty spot seven minutes after the break.

Sassuolo also played the final quarter of an hour a man down after Brazilian defender Marlon was sent off for a second yellow card, but Sassuolo keeper Andrea Consigli denied Muriel.

Meanwhile Ajax Amsterdam clinched their 35th Dutch league title on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Emmen.

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netherlands-ajax-vs-fc-emmen Ajax celebrate their league title. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Jurrien Timber, Sebastien Haller, Davy Klaassen and  Devyne Rensch scored for Ajax in a game played in front of empty stands due to anti-Covid measures.

Despite calls from the authorities to avoid gatherings, thousands of fans gathered around the stadium, according to Dutch news agency ANP.

Erik Ten Hag’s side hold a 15-point advantage over second-place PSV Eindhoven, who have four matches to play including their game later on Sunday against Heerenveen.

Ajax completed the Dutch double two weeks after beating Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 in the cup final.

No champion was crowned last season, which was halted in early March by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Ajax leading the table.

Ajax announced on Friday they had extended the contract of coach Erik Ten Hag until 2023, ending rumours he was headed to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga or Tottenham in the Premier League.

“I am happy in Amsterdam and the management have assured me that the current squad will be retained and even strengthened in certain positions,” said the coach who has been at the Johan Cruyjff ArenA since 2017.

© – AFP, 2021

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