Derby beat Leeds United 4-2 at Elland Road on Wednesday, May 15th to book a place in the play-off final against Aston Villa. The Whites were 1-0 up from the first-leg, but a drama-filled encounter saw them eventually lose 4-3 on aggregate.
Derby looked the better side in the opening exchanges of the feisty encounter but, it was Leeds who created the first opening of the game in the 15th minute. Luke Ayling volleyed over the bar from Mateusz Klich’s cross. The hosts eventually took the lead against the run of play just before the half hour mark. Liam Cooper’s header from Kalvin Phillips’s free-kick came back off the post allowing Stuart Dallas to slot in the rebound from close-range.
They almost doubled their lead five minutes later as Klich’s shot from long-range was deflected onto the crossbar. Derby almost equalised in the 43rd minute as Mason Bennet’s header came back off the post following a corner. They finally levelled the score just before half-time, a mix-up between defender Cooper and goalkeeper Kiko Casilla led to Jack Marriot slotting the ball into the net
Just a minute into the second-half the away side took the lead and brought the game level on aggregate. Harry Wilson’s through ball found out Mason Mount who stumbled into the area and shot into the back-of-the-net. In the 53rd minute Jack Harrison blocked Jayden Bogle’s goal-bound effort on the line to keep Derby in front. Leeds were beginning to get back in their stride as Dallas had a shot saved before Pablo Hernandez’s effort was blocked.
Just before the hour mark Cooper brought down Bennett in the box allowing referee Anthony Taylor to give Derby a penalty. Wilson stepped up and sent Casilla the wrong way to put the visitors ahead on aggerate for the first time in the tie. The hosts pulled a goal back just minutes later as Dallas cut in from the left to strike into the bottom corner for his second of the night.
Leeds were 3-2 down on the night, but the tie was level 3-3 over the course of the two-legs. In the 78th minute the hosts went down to 10-men as Gaetano Berardi was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a challenge on Bradley Johnson.
Derby began to capitalise on their man advantage as Wilson’s left-footed strike came back off the post. The winner came seconds later as Richard Keogh picked out Jack Marriot inside the area and he kicked the ball over Casilla for his second of the night. Jack Malone was sent-off in stoppage-time, but the Rams held on to win 4-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate. They will play Aston Villa in the final on Monday May 27th with the winner guaranteed a spot in the Premier League next season
The AFP reported that Derby boss Frank Lampard said, "I said to the lads that everyone had written us off. We needed the lads to show bravery on the ball and they did." Lampard told Sky Sports, "We have to enjoy the moment but now prepare for Aston Villa, but we'll be underdogs again."
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa said, according to AFP, that his side should have killed the tie off before the break, "We should have made a bigger difference in the first half," he said.