Tue, May 04, 2004 - Page 20 News List

AC Milan takes title; Leeds slide

CHAMPIONS ONCE MORE AC Milan bounced back from a shock elimination from the Champions League to win the Italian league, while Leeds' relegation is a formality

REUTERS , MILAN, LONDON AND MADRID

AC Milan supporters celebrate in downtown Milan on Sunday after their team clinched its 17th Italian league soccer title.

PHOTO: AP PHOTO

Thousands of fans filled the streets and squares of Milan and surrounding towns after AC Milan won their 17th Italian title on Sunday with a 1-0 win over their only remaining challengers, AS Roma.

Celebrating supporters waved flags and blasted horns after a win that goes some way to erasing the memory of Milan's shock elimination from the Champions League by Deportivo Coruna.

"We are invincible. We have been unlucky in the Champions League but we got our payback with winning the Italian title," said Milan supporter Giorgio Mariotti.

A second-minute header from Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko ensured the victory for Milan, who moved nine points clear of Roma with just two matches remaining.

The celebrations went on for hours with people and cars moving through the city's streets displaying scarves, banners and hats sporting the team's red and black colors.

The noise of car horns and the sight of convoys of young fans on scooters was played out in other towns in Lombardia where loyalties are split between Milan and city rivals Inter.

The partying in the streets made up for the sour atmosphere at the stadium where the game was twice interrupted in the second half after Roma fans hurled fireworks and missiles on to the pitch.

Milan's Gennaro Gattuso was stunned by a powerful firework that exploded near him, and Milan goalkeeper Dida had to receive medical attention after he was twice struck by objects thrown from the crowd.

But after the final whistle was blown Milan's players danced in front of their supporters at the southern end of the stadium, linking arms and throwing themselves on to the pitch to huge roars from the 81,000 crowd.

English Premier League

Leeds United's hopes of premier league survival disappeared in eight awful second-half minutes on Sunday as a 1-0 lead turned into a 4-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers that, barring a miracle, will send them down.

The result left Leeds six points behind Manchester City with two games remaining but with City boasting a goal difference better by 36, relegation is a formality.

Leicester City were relegated on Saturday and Wolverhampton Wanderers look certain to join them.

In the battle for fourth place Liverpool and Aston Villa both won to edge ahead of Newcastle United, beaten 1-0 by Manchester City on Saturday.

Liverpool beat Middlesbrough 2-0 with a Danny Murphy penalty and a goal for Emile Heskey, while Aston Villa beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 with an early header by Juan Pablo Angel.

Liverpool have 56 points, Villa 55 and Newcastle, with a game in hand, 53. Liverpool host Newcastle on the last day of the season in what looks likely to decide who makes the Champions League qualifying round.

Three years ago to the day Leeds were playing Valencia in the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition but now, with most of that team long sold and the club still in debt, their immediate future looks bleak.

Leeds, ever-present in the premier league and the last team to win the old first division title in 1992, knew they had to win on Sunday and got the ideal start when Mark Viduka converted a penalty in the 27th minute.

But the Australian played only six more minutes before being sent off for a second yellow card in two minutes, both for elbowing. His second red card in a month proved costly.

Bolton were level two minutes after halftime when Youri Djorkaeff latched on to a clever Jay-Jay Okocha pass to score from close range and the Frenchman got his second six minutes later.

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