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Thousands celebrate Sporting's league title

Thousands of Sporting fans spilled into the streets until the early hours of Monday to celebrate their club being crowned Portuguese league champions for the twentieth time in their history.

Sporting clinched the Primeira Liga title on Sunday after Benfica lost 2-0 against Famalicão, a result that left Ruben Amorim's side with an unassailable eight-point lead in the standings with two games left.

Soon after Benfica's defeat, cars started to beep their horns in celebration and thousands of fans headed to Lisbon's main square, Marques do Pombal, where players arrived on an open-top bus at around 1.40 a.m. local time.

One by one, players went up a big stage set up at the square as upbeat songs were blasted from the speakers and fans waved flags and scarves.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, took to social media to congratulate Sporting, where he began his professional career. "Congratulations champions," he wrote on Instagram.

Sporting reclaimed the title three years after their last win in 2021, when they ended a nearly two decade-drought. The celebrations in 2021 took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and were marred by clashes between the police and fans.

The 2021 victory also completed a huge turnaround in fortunes for the club after the squad was attacked by angry fans at the team's training ground in May 2018.

It was Amorim's second league title and Sporting can extend their celebrations with a domestic double if they win the Portuguese Cup final against Porto later this month.

Amorim, 39, is among the names linked with the top job at some foreign soccer clubs, including in England, but on Sunday said he was under contract with Sporting and would remain the team's coach: "There are still things to do (at Sporting)."

"They said we will never be two-time champions again... we will see," Amorim told a sea of fans clad in green and white as they shouted in unison: "Stay, stay!"

(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Pedro Nunes in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Fernando Kallas in Madrid; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Diogo Lemos).

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