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Champions Inter celebrate ‘special moment’ with fans at San Siro

Milan (AFP) – Captain Samir Handanovic celebrated a ‘special moment’ as he lifted Inter’s Milan first Serie A trophy in 11 years on Sunday in front of home fans after winning the season finale against Udinese 5-1.

Antonio Conte’s side had sealed their 19th ‘Scudetto’ with four games to spare and were able to play their final game of the season with 1,000 celebrating supporters in the San Siro.

“There is great emotion, joy, happiness,” said 36-year-old Handanovic after a game which also saw him overtake Walter Zenga as the goalkeeper with the most league appearances for the club with 329.

The Slovenian stopper joined the club in 2012 after eight seasons with Udinese, and had never won a trophy with Inter.

“We have waited a long time for this day, now we can enjoy it and this must be a starting point.

“The Scudetto is the dream of all children.”

The game was watched by fans inside the 75,000-seater San Siro for the first time in a campaign played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Outside more than 4,000 had gathered from early in the morning with fireworks and flares, greeting the team bus with chants and cheers.

“It is a special moment for us, for what we have experienced in these past five years,” said Inter’s Chinese president Steven Zhang.

“It is wonderful to be able to share all this with our people, our fans.”

– Young breaks through –

On the pitch, Ashley Young struck after eight minutes with his first goal of the season following a one-two with Lautaro Martinez.

The former Manchester United and Aston Villa winger has scored five goals in 59 games since moving to Italy in January 2020.

The 35-year-old also won the Premier League with United in 2013 and is the third English player to win the Italian title after Jimmy Greaves with AC Milan and Gerry Hitchens with Inter in the 1960s.

Christian Eriksen came off the bench and scored with a free-kick through the Udinese wall just before the break.

Martinez marked his 100th Serie A appearance with the third goal from the penalty spot 10 minutes after the break for a foul on Achraf Hakimi.

Ivan Perisic and Romelu Lukaku added two more in the second half.

There was a party atmosphere with the song of Italy’s Eurovision winners Maneskin blasting out during the interval.

Handanovic was substituted at half-time with third keeper Daniele Padelli coming off the bench for his first start this season.

Roberto Pereyra got a goal back for Udinese from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go for an Eriksen handball.

Dethroned Juve, whose nine-year reign was ended by Inter, are in a three-team race with AC Milan and Napoli for the final two Champions League places behind Inter and Atalanta.

Juve travel to 11th-placed Bologna later Sunday trying to avoid missing out on the Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 2011-12.

But a win may not be enough with the results of Milan at Atalanta and Napoli at home against Hellas Verona, also deciding their fate.

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