Simone Inzaghi congratulated Milan on their "extraordinary" Scudetto triumph but vowed Inter will come back stronger next season.

Inter beat Sampdoria 3-0 in their final game of the 2021-22 season on Sunday, though it was not enough to stop fierce rivals Milan from claiming a first Serie A crown since 2011.

The Rossoneri had to lose if Inter were to pip them to top spot, but they showed no signs of final day nerves in a comfortable 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

It is only the second time in seven such instances in the three-points-per-win era that Inter have missed out on top spot despite registering 80 points or more.

Their final tally of 84 points were two fewer than Milan managed, with Stefano Pioli's men winning their final five games and going 15 without defeat to conclude the campaign.

While proud of his own side's form in the second half of the season, Inzaghi was quick to praise Milan for seeing out the job.

"Congratulations must go to them because they had an extraordinary season," he told DAZN. "Congratulations to them for managing 86 points.

"Over the last 30 points on offer, we managed three points more than Milan. I am proud of what we have done.

"In February we had a double-header with Liverpool in the Champions League and that had an impact [on our league form].

"Now, in the next few days, we will analyse where we could have claimed the extra victory that would have turned the season from beautiful to extraordinary."

Inzaghi may have fallen just short of retaining the title Inter won last season, but the ex-Lazio head coach won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in his first year in charge.

He is the third manager in Inter's history to win at least 25 matches in his maiden Serie A campaign, after Aldo Olivieri (1950-51) and Jose Mourinho (2008-09).

Reflecting on the campaign as a whole, Inzaghi said: "It has been a challenging journey. But we lifted two trophies and only lost to Liverpool and Real Madrid in Europe.

"Nobody likes being second, but this season will be hard to forget."

Milan and Inter have finished in the top-two spots in successive seasons for the first time ever and will be much fancied to battle it out for the Scudetto again next time around.

After losing a number of key men ahead of this season, Inzaghi is hoping for a positive transfer window to help Inter bounce back in the 2022-23 campaign.

"I'll meet with [chairman Steven] Zhang with a cool head and we'll discuss the future," he said. "We have to do things well because we have fans who deserve to be brought joy.

"[Romelu] Lukaku, [Achraf] Hakimi and [Christian] Eriksen were big losses. We've worked hard to stay competitive and the hope is we can make our squad more competitive."

Manchester City sealed the Premier League title in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

It meant Liverpool's own comeback win over Wolves was rendered meaningless, as Jurgen Klopp's team finished second, one point off the pace.

Chelsea capped an ultimately underwhelming campaign by beating Watford, who will be joined in the Championship next season by Burnley – the Clarets relegated by a defeat to Newcastle United, while Leeds United beat Brentford to stay up.

Already safe Everton were hammered 5-1 at Arsenal, but the Gunners' big win was not enough to get them into the Champions League as Tottenham thrashed Norwich City.

Elsewhere, Manchester United lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace to end a dismal season for them, but they did at least qualify for the Europa League, as West Ham were beaten 3-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion, meaning David Moyes' team will take a place in next season's Europa Conference League.

For the final time this season, Stats Perform looks at the best facts from across the Premier League's fixtures, using Opta data.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's dream dashed by Gundogan

Steven Gerrard never managed to win the league with Liverpool but he looked destined to give his old club a huge helping hand when Villa took a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho put Villa 2-0 up midway through the second half, and he has now scored five goals against City in the Premier League, more than against any other team.

However, substitute Ilkay Gundogan became the first player to score twice from the bench for City since Sergio Aguero did so against Everton on the final day of last season, as he inspired a comeback for the ages.

Gundogan scored either side of Rodri's equaliser – there were just 12 minutes and 22 seconds between City going 2-0 down, and then leading 3-2 in the match.

City have now won a sixth Premier League title, with four of those coming in the past five seasons under Pep Guardiola, while it was the first time the club have come from two goals down to win a top-flight game since February 2005.

Liverpool 3-1 Wolves: Salah seals share of Golden Boot but Reds settle for second

There will be no quadruple for Liverpool, who nevertheless have a Champions League final to look forward to on May 28.

Liverpool have finished the season on 92 points, the second-highest total by a side that did not go on to win the title in English top-flight history, behind only their own 97 in 2018-19.

Sadio Mane cancelled out Pedro Neto's opener (the third-earliest Premier League goal for Wolves, timed at 02:11), with the Senegal star having scored six goals on the final day of the Premier League season for Liverpool, the most of any player at the club – three of those strikes have come against Wolves.

Mohamed Salah finally got Liverpool in front in the 84th minute to take him to 23 goals for the season, meaning he shares the Golden Boot with Son Heung-min. Andrew Robertson added a third, which means Wolves have now lost their last 11 league meetings with the Reds by an aggregate score of 24-3.

Arsenal 5-1 Everton, Norwich City 0-5 Tottenham: North London rivals go big

It has been a frustrating end to the season for Arsenal, who let a Champions League place slip out of their grasp and fall into Tottenham's lap.

The Gunners put five past a much-changed Everton team. Arsenal have now scored more goals against the Toffees than any other side has netted against another team in Premier League history (117).

Arsenal are also unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last 17 seasons (W15 D2), winning the last 11 in a row, while Everton have lost their final league game in five of the last six seasons (D1), conceding at least three goals in each defeat.

Only in 1993-94 (22) have Everton lost more games in a Premier League season than the 21 defeats they have suffered in the competition this term, but they have nevertheless stayed up. Norwich were not so lucky, and their place at the bottom was confirmed by a hammering at home to rampant Spurs.

Tottenham ended the season with 71 points, only in three previous Premier League campaigns have they had more points – 86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13.

Son Heung-min is the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, while Harry Kane has scored nine goals on the final day of Premier League seasons, the joint-most in the competition's history.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United, Brentford 1-2 Leeds United: Another late show caps Whites' survival

Leeds defeated Brentford thanks to a last-gasp Jack Harrison goal, and only City (nine) have netted more goals in the 90th minute than the Whites have this season (eight).

That effort, combined with Burnley's defeat at Newcastle, ensured Leeds avoided the drop and it was Burnley who were relegated.

Burnley netted their 300th Premier League goal, the 32nd side to hit that milestone in the competition, but it was not enough to inspire a comeback after Callum Wilson's double.

The Clarets faced a team in form, with only Liverpool (51), City (43) and Tottenham (41) having picked up more points than Newcastle in 2022.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was "happy for a good final day" as Ross Barkley marked his 100th appearance with the winning goal against Watford, while Ben Chilwell made his long-awaited return from injury.

The Blues secured third place ahead of Tottenham as Barkley's stoppage-time header sealed a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Tuchel's side controlled large periods of their clash with the relegated Hornets, but looked like they would have to settle for a point when Dan Gosling cancelled out Kai Havertz's first-half strike.

But substitute Barkley celebrated his 100th appearance for the club by heading in Reece James' cross in the 91st minute to snatch only a second win in six Premier League games on home soil. 

The Blues' campaign also ended on a high as Chilwell returned to action, having not played since November after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

It capped off what was a pleasing day all around for Tuchel, who also handed Kenedy his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea in five years.

"It looked like we almost gave it away again at the end and had another draw at home, but we came back strongly," he said.

"Reece and Ross turned it around in our favour. I'm happy for Ross to score on what was his 100th game in a Chelsea shirt.

"It was a mood changer for us today, and we are happy to end with a win. 

"The season was more or less finished for us, so we gave some players an opportunity to play who didn't have many minutes. 

"I was happy they could show up and take a deserved win, which is a big step-up in terms of consistency for us.

"We also managed to get [Chilwell] back on the field, which was really nice, so overall I'm happy for a good final day."

Ralf Rangnick lamented another abject away showing from Manchester United at Crystal Palace, while he thanked Brighton and Hove Albion for helping the Red Devils to Europa League qualification.

United lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981 after Wilfried Zaha's strike proved decisive in the 1-0 win for Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag was in attendance at Selhurst Park and has much to ponder after United finished the Premier League season with a record-low points tally (58).

It was also the first time United did not end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 season (minus-one).

However, Brighton came from behind to defeat top-six hopefuls West Ham, which meant United will be playing Europa League football next term under Ten Hag after finishing sixth in the league.

Rangnick, who will move into a consultancy role alongside his managerial job at Austria, expressed his gratitude to Graham Potter's side for overcoming David Moyes' West Ham.

"Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time," he told reporters. 

"They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

"We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

"It was a new experience for me, not necessarily coming in the middle of the season, but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pre-season and unfortunately, we couldn't strengthen the squad.

"These things happen and in hindsight, it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months we did well.

"We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico [Madrid] but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon."

Rangnick also bemoaned United's away performance as they failed to capitalise on chances and allowed Palace to impose themselves on the contest.

"I think we had three good opportunities to score ourselves in the first half but we didn't and, especially in the first half, we had too many unforced errors and bad giveaways, that is the way we conceded the goal," he continued.

"In fact, it was our assist, the goalscorer, in the end, was Zaha but the ones who gave the assist were ourselves.

"There was a throw-in – just keep the ball into our own half – and the way we defended that shot was also not the way that you have to defend in this league and that's why we were trailing again 1-0.

"At half-time, we were trying to bring on all the young strikers we had on the bench. We had some opportunities in the second half but it was not clinical enough and that's why we lost again away from home."

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the club's qualification for the Champions League is like winning a trophy. 

Spurs claimed a fourth-placed finish in this season's Premier League after a resounding 5-0 win over bottom club Norwich City on Sunday.

The win was secured through Harry Kane's header and braces from Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min.

Son's double saw him claim the Premier League Golden Boot alongside Liverpool's Mohamed Salah after the pair finished with 23 goals each.  

Conte has overseen an impressive turnaround since he took over from Nuno Espirito Santo in November.

Spurs were eighth in the table then, yet a fine second half of the campaign saw them finish with 71 points – a tally that have only bettered in three previous Premier League seasons (86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13).

"I didn't win a trophy in this season like in the past but if I am honest to get a place in the Champions League given the difficulty with the situation in November, I have to consider it a really big achievement," he told a media conference.

"After two years Tottenham is able to play again in the Champions League. For me this is a trophy and I'm very happy.

"To become very good and to compete for something important you need to improve in many aspects. I know only one word and that's work, work, work.

"Everybody has to do the right path in this process. For sure we need to improve a lot. Next season the league will be very difficult for all of the teams."

Conte, who signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 campaign, said he will need a few days to gather his thoughts before ensuring his ambitions are in line with those of the club's hierarchy.

"I am under contract until next summer," he added. "I signed a contract for one year and seven months. I have enjoyed a lot my time in Tottenham.

"It was a big challenge in a modern club, with a fantastic stadium and training ground and I knew the situation I would find.

"On the other hand you know I am a person who has ambition and I like to fight for something important, to lift trophies. I always said to you that at the end of the season I'd speak to the club and find the best solution.

"Now I think for me, the club and my players I think it's good to have three, four or five days of rest and then the mind will be clear and then you can consider the whole season and be calm before you speak.

"Now there are lots of emotions for me in my mind."

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

David de Gea bemoaned an abject Manchester United season as he insisted his Red Devils' team-mates who are not committed "do not have to stay".

Ralf Rangnick has failed to transform United's fortunes following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's departure in November, ending his tenure with the lowest win rate of any manager in the club's Premier League history (41.7 per cent – 10 wins from 24 games).

Erik ten Hag watched on as United fell to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, albeit they will be playing in the Europa League next season after West Ham failed to leapfrog them on the final day.

The incoming Ten Hag will have a sizeable rebuilding task at hand after United failed to end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign (minus-one).

United also concluded their campaign with a record-low Premier League points haul (58), and De Gea vented his frustrations after the game at Selhurst Park.

"I want to forget this season and be 100 per cent ready for the next season and be positive. The best thing that happened today is the season has finished," De Gea told BBC Sport.

"It has been horrible, a very bad season in all ways, it has been very tough. It is time to rest and prepare your minds for next season.

"Ones who want to stay, stay at the club. Ones that don't want to stay, go out. You don't have to stay here.

"The new manager and staff are already looking for new players. Hopefully, they bring good ones with good character."

Unwanted Premier League-era records continued to tumble for United, who have lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981, and De Gea is excited for new beginnings under Ten Hag next term.

"I cannot wait. I am excited for the next season, new manager, new players," he added.

"Hopefully we will improve and put Manchester United in a better position. We need to trust in the future."

Milan have been crowned as Serie A champions for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign after beating Sassuolo.

Stefano Pioli's men went into the final day of the season knowing they simply needed to avoid defeat to clinch their first Scudetto in over a decade.

The Rossoneri had established a two-point lead over rivals Inter – against whom they also held a head-to-head advantage – at the Serie A summit. 

And they made sure of their success with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Franck Kessie.

Milan travelled to Sassuolo having made light of a challenging run-in, winning five consecutive games to tee up their historic triumph, as they matched the Nerazzurri's tally of 19 Italian top-flight titles. Only Juventus (36) have more than the two Milanese giants. 

While Inter avoided handing the title to the Rossoneri following a hard-fought 3-1 win over Cagliari last weekend, their result against Sampdoria on the final day was ultimately immaterial as Milan made their advantage count at the end of an absorbing title race.

The Rossoneri's last title triumph came under the tutelage of Massimiliano Allegri some 11 seasons ago, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato, and Robinho each scoring 14 Serie A goals apiece as Milan finished six points clear of Inter.

Pioli's men have been able to rely on a fantastic defensive record to get them over the line, conceding just eight league goals since the turn of the year.

Indeed, 11 of Milan's 17 Serie A clean sheets this season have come in 2022, and last week's crucial 2-0 win over Atalanta marked the first time they had kept five consecutive home clean sheets in Serie A since a run of six under Carlo Ancelotti in 2002.

The Rossoneri's title win also marks the first major trophy of Pioli's coaching career, and the club's first trophy win since the 2016 Supercoppa Italiana.

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

Inter's reign as Serie A champions came to an end on Sunday despite rounding off their campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over Sampdoria at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri needed to beat Sampdoria on the final day and hope Milan lost against Sassuolo if they were to pip their fierce rivals to top spot.

Inter completed their half of the bargain thanks to a couple of goals for Joaquin Correa after Ivan Perisic had opened the scoring early in the second half.

But it did not matter as Milan were three goals up at half-time against Sassuolo and protected that advantage for a 3-0 win, meaning they – and not Inter – were crowned champions of Italy.

 

At least three goals had been scored in the previous six league meetings between Inter and Sampdoria, but neither side could find a way through in a relatively low-key first half.

Lautaro Martinez grazed the outside of the post with a header and was thwarted by Emil Audero from the best of Inter's opportunities.

The Inter striker was denied again by Audero after the restart, although Simone Inzaghi's side soon found their groove.

In what could be his final game for the club ahead of his contract expiring next month, Perisic picked out the far corner four minutes into the second half to give his side lift-off.

Correa swept in a first-time finish to double Inter's lead, and the Argentina international added another on the turn two minutes later to completely kill off the contest.

Perisic was carried off on a stretcher after sustaining an injury in the build-up to that third goal, which proved to be the last of the meaningful action on the day Inter's spell as top dogs in Italy officially came to an end.

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 a consolation as Pioli celebrated with his players and staff on the touchline before the final whistle was blown.

Jordan Henderson admits Liverpool's failure to win the Premier League title is tough to take after Manchester City produced a stunning second-half comeback against Aston Villa to end the Reds' quadruple hopes.

Liverpool went into the Premier League's final day needing a win – and a slip-up from Pep Guardiola's men – to be crowned champions.

And despite falling behind to Wolves through Pedro Neto's early goal, the Reds were given hope when City went 2-0 down against Steven Gerrard's Villa.

Although Liverpool recovered to seal a 3-1 win through goals from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Andrew Robertson, they ended the season one point behind Guardiola's team after an Ilkay Gundogan double fired City to an incredible 3-2 victory.

Jurgen Klopp's side have finished as runners-up despite amassing 92 points this campaign – the most of any team to miss out on top spot since their own tally of 97 in 2018-19, when they were again second to City by a single point.

At the end of a dramatic final day, Henderson admitted the disappointment of coming second was hard to digest. 

"It was a tough afternoon for us really. We didn't play particularly well, or as well as we can," he told Sky Sports. 

"Going a goal behind is never easy, but we kept going and we found a way to win, which was pleasing. 

"We didn't really know what the score was [at the Etihad Stadium] because there were too many cheers from the Wolves fans and the Liverpool fans. 

"We are disappointed; we have been in this position before, and it is tough. We found a way today to get the three points, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough."

Henderson made his 56th appearance for Liverpool in all competitions this season against Wolves, the most by any player for a Premier League club in 2021-22.

Having won both domestic cups – each via a penalty shoot-out triumph over Chelsea – Liverpool's pursuit of major silverware is not yet over, with a Champions League final against Real Madrid to come in less than a week.

Despite his disappointment on missing out on the title at the end of an absorbing league campaign, Henderson expressed his pride at Liverpool's efforts after they ended the season with a 19-match unbeaten run (16 wins, three draws).

"We gave absolutely everything all season right up until the end," he added.

"We are very proud of the boys, of what they have done this season, but it is not over yet.

"There is still one game left against a really good side, and we are going to have to be at our best [to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final]."

Manchester City have done the job, just about.

Their remarkable 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa on Sunday ensured that the Premier League title is theirs for a fourth time in five seasons, ending Liverpool's hopes of a remarkable quadruple in the process.

While Liverpool will now turn their full focus to the Champions League final as they look to secure a third trophy of the campaign, Pep Guardiola will look to build on his side's domestic dominance heading into next season.

Erling Haaland's impending arrival is a strong start to doing just that, and City will have another go at the Champions League next term too with the Norway forward leading their line – the issue of playing without a "proper" number nine finally put to bed.

Had Guardiola and City got their way in 2021, they would have had a striker for this season, too, but Tottenham did not budge on their valuation of Harry Kane.

Yet that lack of a natural centre forward has ultimately not proved costly, and here, Stats Perform looks at the key moments behind City's title success.

Grealish arrives, but no Kane

City broke the English transfer record to sign Jack Grealish for £100million, and while the England international's form has at times been questioned, it was a statement of intent from the champions.

That being said, they missed out on Kane, meaning Guardiola would once again have to do it the hard way... or, at least, rely on his plethora of world-class attacking midfielders to play up front.

The failure to sign Kane was highlighted, ironically, in a 1-0 defeat to Spurs to start the season, though City bounced back with 5-0 thrashings of Norwich City and Arsenal.

Supreme at Stamford Bridge 

City fell short in last season's Champions League final against Chelsea, but on September 25, they rocked up at Stamford Bridge and, if the signing of Grealish was a statement of intent made off the pitch, this performance was one made very much on it.

Guardiola's team delivered a stellar display, especially in the first half, with Gabriel Jesus' goal enough to end Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season.

They may have only won 1-0, but City finished with 15 shots to five, registering an xG (expected goals) of 1.4 to 0.2 and dominated the ball (59 per cent).

Old Trafford dominance

City suffered a surprise set-back at the end of October, losing 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace. Fortunately for them, Liverpool drew 2-2 to Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on the same day, and Guardiola's team rallied the following week.

A 2-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford was as dominant as you could get at the home of a city rival. The xG tells its own story – City's 2.37 to United's 0.75, 16 attempts to five, with five on target from the visitors, who hit the woodwork twice.

Twelve of City's shots came from inside United's area, showing just how easy they found it to carve open their neighbours, who managed just four touches in the opposition box (City had 32, and 92 final-third entries). The victory sparked a 12-game winning run that was bookended by a 1-0 home success over Chelsea and included a 7-0 rout of Leeds United and 6-3 dispatching of Leicester City.

Good fortune at Goodison

A 3-2 home defeat to Spurs snapped a 15-game unbeaten run that had seemingly put City well on track to securing the title with relative ease. And it appeared they may well drop points again in the next match, a tough fixture against relegation-battling Everton at Goodison Park at the end of February.

Phil Foden struck eight minutes from time to seal a 1-0 victory that moved City six points clear at the top of the Premier League, but Everton were denied the chance for a late equaliser from the penalty spot when referee Paul Tierney and VAR Chris Kavanagh failed to spot a handball by Rodri.

The Premier League clarified that the penalty was not awarded because there was insufficient evidence to show the ball struck Rodri below the level of his armpit, not because Richarlison had strayed offside in the build-up, and referees chief Mike Riley subsequently apologised to Everton for the mistake.

"Can this episode affect a whole season? I will review a lot of incidents. It looks offside for Richarlison; if it's not offside, it's a penalty," said Guardiola after the incident. Had Everton been awarded the penalty, and converted it, then the title might well be Liverpool's.

Champions League heartbreak fuels De Bruyne-inspired charge

With both Premier League meetings between the title rivals finishing all square, it was Liverpool who got the edge in the FA Cup in April, winning the semi-final clash 3-2. The sides seemed destined to meet again in the Champions League final, yet Real Madrid had other ideas.

Quicker than Carlo Ancelotti could raise his eyebrow, Madrid turned a tie that seemed all wrapped up in City's favour on its head thanks to two Rodrygo goals, and Karim Benzema's extra-time penalty capped off one of the all-time great comebacks, and one of the all-time worst capitulations, in the competition's history.

Yet City, who had beaten Leeds 4-0, Watford 5-1 and Brighton 3-0 in their previous three league outings, responded with a 5-0 demolition of in-form Newcastle United, with late goals from Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling really doing wonders for their goal difference. To boost their mood, Liverpool had drawn with Spurs at Anfield a day earlier.

That advantage grew further still three days later – Kevin De Bruyne scoring four goals (three with his weaker left foot) in a 5-1 defeat of Wolves.

Gundogan sparks a comeback for the ages

City's second-half comeback against West Ham dashed Liverpool's hopes of a true slip-up, though Riyad Mahrez's penalty miss in that match did allow the Reds to close the gap to one point heading into the final day, meaning Guardiola's side needed a win to guarantee the title.

In a narrative a Hollywood scriptwriter would have done well to dream up, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was the manager tasked with ending City's charge and, in the process, giving the Reds the title (should, of course, Jurgen Klopp's team beat Wolves).

And that narrative seemed set to rule when Villa went 2-0 up at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Matty Cash and ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, with the visitors' two-goal lead still intact going into the last 15 minutes.

But Ilkay Gundogan – on what could well have been his final City appearance – had other ideas.

After coming on from the bench, he hauled City back into it with a header from Raheem Sterling's cross and, following Rodri's equaliser, the Germany international tucked in from a Kevin De Bruyne centre to complete a stunning, title-clinching comeback.

Four of Manchester City's six Premier League triumphs have gone right to the wire, where margins are so fine the title battle can be settled by a single man in a single moment.

Sergio Aguero of course set the standard in 2011-12 with surely the most iconic goal of the Premier League era, defeating QPR at the death and clinching a first City championship in 44 years.

Then, in 2018-19, it was Vincent Kompany's turn. Although the departing City captain made only 17 league appearances that year, he will forever be associated with the title win after his thunderous strike secured a vital late-season victory over Leicester City.

"Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?" asked Sky Sports' Gary Neville. Both Aguero and Kompany – and those celebrations – have since been committed to steel structures outside the Etihad Stadium.

The City hero was perhaps not quite so clear-cut in 2013-14, when Liverpool's collapse took centre stage, but Yaya Toure's 20 goals from midfield kept his side in touch. While City spent only 15 days of the season at the summit, the win that put them there in the final week perhaps provided the defining image of the champions' campaign, as Toure charged through the Aston Villa defence to score a goal that BBC Sport's Alan Shearer considered "like watching a 15-year-old against under-12s".

Three City legends have had seasons to call their own. Kevin De Bruyne, until now, had not.

De Bruyne was the PFA Players' Player of the Year in consecutive years, but the 2019-20 campaign in which he equalled Thierry Henry's 20-assist, single-season record ended with Liverpool on top. The 2020-21 season played out largely without fans and ultimately without a serious challenge to City, robbing their leading man of his platform.

Consistent excellence had for so long characterised the midfielder's career rather than any particular peak.

Now, however, after the decisive assist in another dramatic fightback against Villa on Sunday, 2021-22 might be remembered as the De Bruyne season – a most unexpected conclusion given how the campaign started, as perhaps his worst in a City shirt.

'Difficult physically and mentally'

The player of the year he may have been, but De Bruyne's 2020-21 season did not finish in the manner he would have wished.

The former Chelsea man lasted only an hour of City's Champions League final defeat to the Blues last May, suffering facial fractures that impacted his preparation for Euro 2020. De Bruyne found form again at the finals, only to hobble out of Belgium's last-16 win over Portugal with an ankle issue.

Although De Bruyne played in the next round, as Belgium lost to Italy, he continued to be hampered by the injury at the start of this season, appearing in City's Premier League opener but then not again for almost four weeks.

"It's been a bit difficult physically and mentally," the 30-year-old told the MIDMID podcast in November, revealing he had played through "some serious pain".

"It's going to be a little more difficult this year than usual," De Bruyne suggested, and that seemed a fair prediction.

The City superstar, who also missed time with COVID-19, made his 10th league appearance of the season in a 1-0 home win over Wolves on December 11. At that stage, he had scored only twice in the competition and failed to provide a single assist – averaging a goal involvement every 246 minutes.

The only comparable De Bruyne season in a City shirt was in 2018-19, when two knee ligament injuries meant his 10th league appearance did not come until early February. Over 465 minutes up to that point, he scored once.

That is the sole other example of De Bruyne not contributing an assist through his first 10 league outings in a season for City; in fact, he had tallied at least four assists and six goal involvements by that point in each of his other five campaigns prior to 2021-22.

A week before De Bruyne's podcast appearance last year, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was also asked to address his star man's form, acknowledging the "scrutiny" he faced while underperforming in a team as talented as City's.

"I'm not worried at all," Martinez said. "We feel that his best football is coming back."

De Bruyne added: "I just needed more time than expected."

'Now he scores a lot'

De Bruyne's 11th game of this campaign was very different. In a 7-0 City win over Leeds United, the team's talisman doubled his seasonal tally by scoring twice, including a thunderous 25-yard drive for his second.

"For the whole team, it's a booster," De Bruyne told NBC Sports – although that surely applied more to the two-goal star than his team-mates, with City moving four points clear at the top of the table with the victory.

"There's been a lot happening this year, a little bit out of my control, so the only thing I can do is try to work hard and come back as quick as possible," he said.

It was clearly a turning point for De Bruyne, who scored 13 goals and provided eight assists in 20 matches from the Leeds game until the end of the season. A goal involvement every 82 minutes over this period just beats his single-season best from 2019-20 (85 minutes per goal involvement).

Yet De Bruyne's role has altered in the past two years. He did not match his outstanding 33 goal involvements from the year Liverpool won the title, but 15 goals represent a career high.

The reason for that change perhaps has more to do with De Bruyne's City team-mates than the player himself.

In 2019-20, six of De Bruyne's 20 assists were for record goalscorer Aguero – more than for any other player. Of course, Aguero has since departed.

The retired striker was City's leading marksman in six of his 10 league campaigns in Manchester, including each of his first four playing alongside De Bruyne.

With Aguero gone and Erling Haaland not arriving until next term, City needed someone to fill the void in front of goal. De Bruyne, whether used in midfield or attack, has done that in the second half of the season.

Despite the slow start, City's top scorer has scored with 19.2 per cent of his shots in 2021-22; his previous high, in his debut 2015-16 season, saw a shot conversion rate of 14.3 per cent.

"I like it a lot," Pep Guardiola said in April after De Bruyne had netted four in four games – including two against Manchester United and one against Liverpool.

"He is not just a player to make assists – now he scores a lot of goals. I've said to him many times, 'I know you enjoy making a lot of assists, for you and your team-mates, but you have to score goals to reach another stage'. Now he is doing that, a lot of goals and chances."

'We have to move on'

De Bruyne either scored or assisted in 14 of those 20 games in the run-in, but he saved his best performances for when it mattered most – at least in the league.

There were suspicions City's season might fall apart when Real Madrid's remarkable semi-final recovery eliminated Guardiola's side from the Champions League at the start of May. With Liverpool in hot pursuit in the Premier League, the leaders were afforded little time to regroup as they headed straight into matches against Newcastle United at home and Wolves away.

"We are going to play against Newcastle thinking about [the Madrid defeat], for sure," said Guardiola in an enthralling news conference, revealing two days before the Newcastle match: "We didn't speak. No words can help what all of us feel. It's just a question of time."

Time, and Tottenham drawing at Liverpool, as it turned out.

A rare slip-up at Anfield on the eve of City's game against Newcastle eased the pressure on the champions. Then De Bruyne got to work.

Briefly restored to his 2019-20 vintage, De Bruyne attempted only a single shot at the Etihad but created six chances in a 5-0 win – his most in a single game this season – including an assist for Rodri's goal.

That performance prompted Jamie Carragher in the Sky Sports studio to declare De Bruyne "the greatest player to ever play for Manchester City", "the best midfield player in the world right now" and "the best player in the Premier League for the past three or four years".

Yet better was still to come at Wolves, where City became the first team in English top-flight history to win five consecutive league games by a margin of at least three goals. De Bruyne alone outscored Wolves by three, netting four in a 5-1 victory.

The first hat-trick of his City career was completed inside 24 minutes – the third-fastest in Premier League history – to blow away a Wolves team who had briefly threatened to cause their visitors some problems.

"It should have been five, to be honest," De Bruyne told Sky Sports, before conversation turned back to the Madrid match.

"It's very difficult to explain because it was just a mad five minutes," he said. "It's not that we played bad or something, it was just five minutes that you can't explain as a player. I don't know what happened. I was out of control on the bench anyway, so you feel a little bit in shock. It's not nice and the feeling is still not nice.

"But you need to move on. We're trying now to win the title and whatever happened unfortunately happened. We have to move on."

The Wolves display would have been fresh in Carragher's mind on Monday when he named De Bruyne his personal player of the season. The Premier League award followed ahead of the crucial final-day assist for Ilkay Gundogan, although other individual end-of-season honours may evade De Bruyne. Many are voted on well in advance of the final weeks of the campaign – before De Bruyne had done his best work.

Mohamed Salah is the FWA Footballer of the Year and may also be recognised by the PFA; he scored four goals in his final 11 games – as many as De Bruyne managed on one night in Wolverhampton.

A Premier League title, defined by his clutch performances, is not a bad consolation.

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