Olivier Giroud's brace seals AC Milan's first Serie A title in 11 years
Serie A

Olivier Giroud’s brace seals AC Milan’s first Serie A title in 11 years

Olivier Giroud scored twice as magnificent Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Serie A title with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo.

Milan only needed a point at the Mapei Stadium on the final day of the season to dethrone city rivals Inter and they made it mission accomplished in style.

There were no sign of nerves from the rampant Rossoneri as the outstanding Rafael Leao set Giroud up for a double and also laid on the third goal for Franck Kessie in a totally one-sided first half.

Stefano Piolo’s side eased to victory in a party atmosphere in Reggio Emilia on Sunday, finishing two points clear of Inter to finally claim the Scudetto once again.

Milan swarmed all over Sassuolo from the start, Giroud forcing a save from Andrea Consigli with a bullet header before Fikayo Tomori had an effort cleared off the line.

The Rossoneri were totally dominant and a huge contingent of away fans erupted in the 17th minute when Leao robbed Kaan Ayhan on the halfway line and burst down the left before picking out Giroud, who put the ball between Consigli’s legs.

Leao was also the architect for the second goal just after the half-hour mark, dispossessing Gian Marco Ferrari and pulling back from the byline for Giroud to sweep home.

Sassuolo were unable to live with Leao and he surged down the right before laying into the path of the onrushing Kessie, who fired home brilliantly with his left foot nine minutes before half-time.

Milan were in complete control and there was party atmosphere as their supporters were spared final-day tension following a dream first half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a great reception when he replaced Giroud 18 minutes from the end of what might be his last game for Milan and the striker had a goal ruled out for offside against Leao.

Hamed Traore rattled the post late on and that was as close as Sassuolo came to consolation as Pioli celebrated with his players and staff on the touchline before the final whistle was blown

What does it mean? Ruthless Rossoneri end title drought with a swagger

Milan were unable to maintain a title challenge last season, but they were not to be denied this time around and as they claimed a first trophy since their 2016 Supercoppa Italiana triumph.

The champions finished the season with five consecutive wins to prevent Inter from retaining their crown, with the Nerazzurri’s 3-0 win over Sampdoria in vain. It was the 19th time Milan have been crowned champions of Italy, moving them level with Inter’s tally.

Their victory on the final day was never in doubt, with Pioli’s men blowing their opponents away in a first half that saw them have as many as 11 shots on target.

Lethal Leao too hot to handle

Portugal forward Leao caused Sassuolo all sorts of problems with his skill, pace and power. The 22-year-old’s three assists were aided by some terrible defending, but he showed great composure and awareness on each occasion.

Giroud makes his mark in his debut season

Striker Giroud showed his predatory instincts twice in the first half with great movement and clinically finished.

The 35-year-old became the oldest player to score at least 10 goals in a debut Serie A season, finishing with a tally of 11 and really ought to have completed a hat-trick.

Key Opta Facts:

– Milan have gained 86 points in Serie A this season, only in 2005-06 (88) have they collected more in the three-points-for-a-win era.
– Giroud became the oldest player to reach double figures for goals in his debut season in Serie A (35 years, 234 days).
– Having scored his first five Serie A goals at home, Giroud has scored his last six Serie A goals away from home.
– Leao has been involved in at least one goal in his last six league games – three goals and five assists during the period.

Tope Adefala

Tope Adefala is an experienced sports writer, editor, and web designer. A former editor at Sportlineng.com. Talks sports with a great bias for Basketball, Tennis, Field Hockey and Football. Presently the media officer of Nigeria Hockey Federation. I have been in the business of Sports communication and marketing for more than 10 years. Not forgetting that I won West African University Games, Nigeria University Games gold medals. You can find me on Twitter @1topham.

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