Derby County have roared back from a two-goal aggregate deficit to defeat Leeds United 4-3 over two legs to secure their spot in the English Championship playoff final against former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak’s Aston Villa.
Derby manager Frank Lampard, who will come up against his former Chelsea teammate John Terry, who is assistant coach at Villa, hailed the approach of his players.
“I said to the lads that everyone had written us off. We changed the system and made a little tweak. But we needed the lads to show bravery on the ball and they did,” he said.
“The goal before halftime gave the players belief and I am so delighted for Jack Marriott. I felt it was his night but I didn’t know he’d do that. We have to enjoy the moment but now prepare for Aston Villa, but we’ll be underdogs again.”
With a place in the Premier League at stake, Leeds took the lead at Elland Road in the 24th minute when Stuart Dallas reacted well to a Kalvin Phillips free kick to slot home from close range.
That put Leeds 2-0 up on aggregate but just before the break, a defensive mix-up between Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla and defender Liam Cooper allowed Derby substitute Jack Marriott to convert with his first touch of the game.
“We should have made a bigger difference in the first half,” Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa told Sky Sports.
“The second half was an unpredictable one and it’s difficult to analyse it.
A minute after the interval Mason Mount put the Rams 2-1 up with a fine finish, and on-loan Harry Wilson made it 3-1 on the night with a 58th-minute penalty.
The hosts were able to level on aggregate with a fine effort from Dallas in the 62nd minute, but went down to ten men in the 78th after Gaetano Berardi was dismissed following a second yellow card.
Wilson hit the post in the 84th minute but moments later Marriott grabbed the decisive goal with a clinical finish to seal the 4-2 win on the night.
Derby’s celebrations were dampened slightly, however, by Scott Malone’s red card in stoppage time, ruling him out of the May 27 final at Wembley Stadium.