AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli believes his side deservedly secured their place in the next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The Milan-based club, along with Juventus, qualified for Europe’s elite club competition after a 2-0 win against Atalanta. Juve on the other hand defeated Bologna 4-1 in their final match.
Napoli had to settle for a Europa League
spot, finishing fifth, one point behind Juventus, after a 1-1 draw at home
against Hellas Verona.
A pair of Franck Kessie penalities at the
end of either half ensured AC Milan finished the season second—12 points behind
city rivals Inter Milan—and return to the Champions League for the first time
since the 2013-2014 season.
“We deserved the Champions League as
well as second place,” said Milan coach Pioli whose side had missed the
chance to seal their berth last weekend against Cagliari. “We went through
the whole championship at the top, unfortunately we had thrown away the match
point last Sunday. I’m really excited, happy, I have to thank the club because
they made us work in a spectacular way.”
Atalanta had already ensured a third
consecutive season of Champions League football but missed out on a first
second-place Serie A finish days after losing out in the Coppa Italia final to
Cristiano Ronaldo was left on the bench by
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo who opted for an attacking line-up of Paulo Dybala
and Alvaro Morata flanked by Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski.
Ronaldo was tired: Pirlo
“It was a shared choice, Ronaldo was
tired after the fatigue on Wednesday,” said Pirlo. “He made himself
available to the team but I chose to have another player named Morata play, who
is not the latest arrival. I have a quality team, with many choices
A Morata brace along with goals from Chiesa
and Adrien Rabiot prevented Juventus missing out on the elite European
competition for the first time since 2012.
In Naples, Amir Rrahmani scored for Napoli
after an hour against his former club, which would have been enough to secure a
berth at the top table but Davide Faraoni pulled one back for the visitors nine
Gennaro Gattuso’s side were denied a return
to elite European action after also missing out last season.
In a tense game in Bergamo, Milan held on
despite playing without injured star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Kessie proved solid in front of goal taking
the first penalty three minutes before the break and the second deep into
Lazio join Napoli in the Europa League
despite a 2-0 loss at Sassuolo with Roma finishing seventh after coming from
two goals down to hold Spezia 2-2.
In Bologna, Italy forward Chiesa, who
scored the Coppa Italia winner midweek, finishing off a Kulusevski cross into
the box from close range after six minutes for his 15th goal in all
competitions this season.
Dybala set up Morata to nod in the second
before the half-hour mark with Rabiot adding a third before the break at the
Morata got the second just after the
interval latching onto a ball Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny blasted up the