EFL Playoff Match Report: Leeds United 2-4 Derby County (3-4 aggregate)
Derby County sparked a remarkable comeback in the second leg of the EFL Championship Playoff semi-final at Elland Road, as the Rams beat Leeds United 4-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to set up a showdown with Aston Villa in the finals at Wembley on the 27th of May.
It was advantage Leeds in the first leg at Pride Park last week, with Kemar Roofe putting the Whites 1-0 ahead on aggregate. Derby were completely outplayed in the first leg and they came into the game knowing that they had a huge task on their hands away from home against Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
Derby started off as the brighter of the two teams and the Rams probably did a lot more in the first ten minutes than they had done in the entire ninety minutes at Pride Park last week. The visitors piled on the pressure in the opening stages of the game and threatened to make inroads into the Leeds backline, although neither team created any clear cut chances in the first twenty minutes or so.
The tension between the two teams in such a high-octane clash was bound to rise and the triple yellow card incident involving Pablo Hernandez, Tom Lawrence and Scott Malone was the beginning of an eventful ninety minutes at Elland Park, which finally went Derby’s way.
It was Leeds, however, who had the first breakthrough. Kalvin Phillips’ perfectly flighted free-kick bounced inside the box, eluded all the men and came back off the post before Stuart Dallas turned in the rebound from five yards out to put Leeds 1-0 up on the night and 2-0 on aggregate.
Mateusz Klich and Mason Bennett hit the woodwork over the next 20 minutes or so before Derby finally got themselves back in the tie, thanks to an error of communication between Kiko Casilla and Liam Cooper. Both the went for the ball but neither managed to get it cleared and substitute Jack Marriott made it 1-1 on aggregate.
That goal before halftime was a massive boost to Derby County, with the Rams carrying the momentum into the interval. And Lampard’s men finally managed to get the lead in the tie inside the first minute of the second half when Richard Keogh’s surge forward and Harry Wilson’s slick pass set it up for Mason Mount, who found the net despite stumbling and going to ground.
With the travelling Derby fans at Elland Road making all the noise, the Rams were clearly on the front foot and joy turned to ecstasy when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot for Liam Cooper’s foul on Mason Bennett. Harry Wilson sent Casilla the wrong way and made it 3-1 in favour of the Rams.
Leeds carried a 1-goal advantage coming into the game and the Whites knew that they just needed one goal to get back into the tie. And it was Stuart Dallas who cut inside from the right to slot it past Kelle Roos after Mateusz Klich had played him behind with a fine touch.
With the tie locked 3-3 on aggregate, both the teams went hammer and tongs at each other, but a red card incident involving Gaetano Berardi turned the tie in Derby’s favour. Berardi was sent off for a second bookable offence,as the defender lunged wildly into Bradley Johnson in an attempt to retrieve the ball.
There was more drama to unfold though, with Derby on the front foot and Leeds down to ten men. Harry Wilson hit the post from inside the box but it was a slick passing move that sealed the tie for the Rams and booked their berth in the finals.
Richard Keogh surged forward with pace and picked out Mason Mount, who charged at the Leeds backline and popped it back to the Irishman. Keogh showed good awareness to pick out the run of Jack Marriott, who sparked off wild celebrations amongst the Derby fans with a lovely dinked finish over Casilla to make it 4-3 on aggregate with just 5 minutes to go.
Scott Malone saw a red card in injury time and Izzy Brown blazed high and wide from the resultant free-kick but the Rams, and Frank Lampard, in particular, have every reason to be overjoyed with his wonderful comeback.
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While Derby are just one game away from making a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2007-08, it will be difficult for Leeds to put this massive disappointment behind them, as the wait for promotion at Elland Road continues for yet another year.
Here’s how some of the joyous Derby fans reacted to this incredible victory
Incredible scenes! 😲🐏
Congrats to Frank Lampard and our partner club @dcfcofficial. You’re off to Wembley!! 💪👏
Thanks for all your support this season and good luck in the final 🙌#LEEDER #Derby #Rams #playoffs pic.twitter.com/FMZEzZcwMw
— Prostate Cancer UK (@ProstateUK) May 15, 2019
Wow, now that was AMAZING I was there, the day we lost at Leeds away (2-0) and they sang “you’ll f*ck it up” well Leeds who’s f*cking it up now? GET IN DERBY!!!! #rams #LEEDER #LUFCvDCFC #bhafc pic.twitter.com/QXIEJeXfsX
— Nathan Berry (@njcb03) May 15, 2019
Brilliantly refereed by Anthony Taylor. Never stopped moving to get himself great views. Made big calls unhesitatingly and unerringly. Quality under unimaginable pressure. #LEEDER
— Mick Dennis (@MickDennisReal) May 15, 2019
Now all of the spies, are fading away,
Try not to worry, you’ll go up some day.
You cheated at home,
You cheated away.
You were top of the league and you threw it away.
Stop spying Bielsa. Stop spying Bielsa.#LEEDER
— Macca 🌚 (@Macca_ISZ) May 15, 2019
A look back at the game when Lampard’s Derby County faced Chelsea in the League Cup
A look back at the game when Lampard’s Derby County faced Chelsea in the League Cup
There is a breath of fresh air around Stamford Bridge following the appointment of club legend Frank Lampard as the new manager, with the 3-time Premier League winner becoming the first English manager to take charge of Chelsea in over two decades.
The Blues were without a manager since the departure of Maurizio Sarri to Juventus, and with the current transfer embargo in place at West London, the club was in desperate need of bringing in someone to assume control of things at the helm of affairs.
Sarri’s reign at Stamford Bridge was not the most comfortable journey but it did produce the desired results nevertheless, with the Blues lifting the Europa League trophy and securing a third-place finish in the Premier League last term.
As a matter of fact, Chelsea made quite a lot of progress under Sarri but the Italian’s decision to quit his job after just a single season was quite inexplicable given that the board would hardly have considered sacking him after such a fruitful campaign.
Maybe the prospect of a return to his homeland with heavyweights Juventus proved to be too tempting for him to resist.
Well, life had to go on after Sarri’s departure and Chelsea have decided to put their trust in Frank Lampard despite having to pay a compensation fee to Derby County in order to free him from his contract at Pride Park.
The 41-year-old’s emotional return to the club is bound to be welcomed warmly by the fans with heartfelt gratitude and it is easy to see that Chelsea have finally deviated from their staunch recruitment policy of managers.
Over the years, Roman Abramovich has been ruthless, to say the least, in the way that he has handled affairs at Chelsea.
As far as the managerial recruitment policy is concerned, success, experience and reputation have been the primary criteria barring a couple of instances in the recent past when the Blues opted to gamble on the likes of Andre Villa-Boas and Robert Di Matteo.
Well, their reigns at Stamford Bridge didn’t last long and the fans will be hoping that Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge won’t necessarily lead to the erosion of his legendary status.
It is true that his status as a rookie in the managerial scheme of things doesn’t change much even after guiding Derby County to the play-off final last season but Lampard has proven in the past that he is by no means an incompetent person when it comes to tactics and man-management.
It was evident from the attractive brand of football that Derby played in the Championship last season and gave their promotion rivals a real run for their money despite lacking top-quality players.
Apart from the Championship, the Rams enjoyed a good run in the League Cup this past season where they registered a third-round victory over Man United before being knocked out by eventual runners-up Chelsea in the Round-of-16.
One such instance of Lampard’s ability to read the game tactically came in the League Cup fixture against Chelsea and although Derby ended up losing the game 3-2, the former England star had every reason to be happy with his team’s performance.
He almost matched Sarri move-for-move in terms of tactics in that game and that is certainly worthy of a lot of praise given that Sarri is head and shoulders above Lampard as far as managerial experience is concerned.
Derby County’s League Cup tie against Chelsea wasn’t the first time that Lampard was up against his former club given that the midfielder had already faced Chelsea as a player after leaving for Man City in 2014.
However, it was the first time that he was facing his old club as a manager and it was always going to be a monumentous occasion for him upon his return to Stamford Bridge.
Lampard’s appointment as the new Chelsea manager might as well mark the dawn of a new era at Stamford Bridge but it is certainly worth taking a look back at what happened last season when Derby County locked horns with the Blues in the round-of-16 of the League Cup on the 1st of November 2018.
Display of Lampard’s tactical understanding
Chelsea played a patient and possession-based brand of football last season under the stewardship of Sarri and the Blues managed to starve the opposition of the ball with such kind of an approach more often than not.
Derby, as a unit, were no match for Chelsea, who boasted of several world-class stars in their ranks. Lampard knew that going all-out attack was never going to work in his team’s favour.
However, he seemed to know that the Blues were going to rotate their players and Sarri did. In fact, he fielded a changed line-up consisting of the likes of Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen, Emerson and Willy Caballero at the back.
Now, Lampard’s challenge was to identify the weak links in Chelsea’s system and that was where he needed to bring in his vast experience as a player.
From his knowledge of the Chelsea squad, he seemed to know very well that Cahill and Christensen weren’t the quickest of defenders and given that Sarri always favoured a high defensive line, Lampard used pace to perfection.
Also, two of the marked features of Chelsea’s style of play last season were building the play from the back and passing the ball around fluently in the middle of the park.
That was how they managed to build up attacks and it was always going to be important for Derby to find a way to deal with such a high-quality technical approach.
As it happened
Chelsea, as usual, went into the game with their preferred 4-3-3 formation with Kante, Kovacic and Fabregas in the midfield. Loftus-Cheek and Willian started on flank with Morata as the centre-forward.
As opposed to the regular Premier League eleven that consisted of David Luiz, Antonio Rodiger, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso, Sarri opted for a change at the back and fielded Cahill, Christensen, Caballero, Emerson and Zappacosta.
Derby also started with a 4-3-3 system, with Marriott, Waghorn and Lawrence up front complemented by the likes of Mount, Huddlestone and Wilson in the midfield. A regular back-four consisted of Bogle, Malone, Keogh and Tomori with the hugely experienced Scott Carson in goal.
Derby pressed Chelsea higher up the pitch in the opening stages of the game as Lampard tried to negate Sarri’s tactics of playing it out from the back. That approach paid rich dividends as Derby’s pressure forced the likes of Cahill and Caballero to commit a lot of errors.
As opposed to Luiz and Rudiger, who have a very good passing range and are comfortable with the ball at their feet, Chelsea’s backline in that game seemingly lacked those attributes and that is the reason why Lampard’s high-pressing tactics worked wonders.
It was Chelsea, however, who drew first blood, as Fikayo’s Tomori’s scuffed clearance off Zappacosta’s cross from the right found the back of his own net.
As brave and fearless as Derby were on that day, that bizarre own goal hardly dampened their spirits and the Rams found an immediate reply through Jack Marriott.
That only proved to be a temporary relief for Lampard though, as Keogh’s own goal, once again from Zappacosta’s cross, put Chelsea 2-1 up in the 21st minute.
However, Martyn Waghorn put the Rams back on level terms just 6 minutes later as Derby found acres of space behind Chelsea’s rather pedestrian-looking backline.
Fabregas scored Chelsea’s third just before half-time with a shot from inside the box that should probably go down as a goalkeeping error.
A closer look at the tactical side of things would reveal that Derby dropped to a 4-5-1 shape when Chelsea were in possession, which allowed them to cut down the passing lanes in the middle of the park.
Kante and Kovacic, who were trying to play in between the opposition’s lines with Fabregas in a deep role in front of the backline, hardly managed to get themselves involved in the thick of things in the first half, as the likes of Mount, Huddlestone, Waghorn, Wilson and Lawrence formed a near-impenetrable five-man wall.
That ploy allowed the Rams to not only disrupt Chelsea’s build-up play but also win the ball back and launch a few pacy counter-attacks of their own.
Mount and Wilson, in particular, exploited the slow nature of the Blues backline as the midfielders played long balls forward after breaking up the play effectively.
Sarri sensed the danger and opted for a change in approach in the second-half, with Kante and Kovacic dropping down deeper to complement Fabregas in what looked like an outright midfield three.
With Chelsea in the driver’s seat at the halfway mark, they adopted a more conservative approach, with Kante and Kovacic offering extra defensive cover.
Also, the likes of Loftus-Cheek and Willian, who were operating out wide in the first half, moved narrower after the interval, thus drawing Derby’s full-backs Malone and Bogle out of position.
That, in turn, allowed Chelsea full-backs Zappacosta and Emerson to find a lot of space down the wide areas, and the Blues looked a lot more threatening and organised in the final third.
Despite, that, however, Derby were still able to create a lot of chances with their pacey and energetic attack, as Cahill continued to have a nightmare at the back.
The Rams had multiple opportunities to score the equaliser and probably seal the game, but Marriott couldn’t make the most of those chances and later, substitute David Nugent hit the post.
What happened in the League Cup last season is simply dead and buried and merely a part of history, but Lampard reminded one and all that he is more than capable of competing tactically with experienced managers.
Chelsea were extremely lucky to get over the line on that day but Lampard’s Derby County won a lot of hearts despite failing to repeat their miraculous penalty-shootout win against Man United in the previous round.
Can these three young Championship starlets make the step up to the Premier League?
With the new Premier League season approaching fans of every club in England’s topflight will be hoping and praying that their team can pull off some inspired signings this summer as they look to build on the last campaign.
Over the last few seasons we’ve seen a number of starlets from England’s second tier, the Championship, make the jump up to the Premier League- and make a big impression- but which out of last year’s crop of second-division talent has the best chance of making their mark in the top flight this time round?
Let’s look at 3 who could have a very bright future in the Prem next season:
When Dean Smith persuaded Maupay to swap French club Saint-Étienne for the sunny delights of Brentford in 2017 it was considered a bit of a shock. The young forward was developing a strong reputation in France as one of their up and coming leading lights but now, after a couple of seasons in England’s second-tier, you could argue his stock is even higher.
Technically strong, with quick feet and good hold up play, Maupay enjoyed a stellar campaign for Brentford during 2018-19, netting 25 goals and providing 8 assists in 43 matches last term.
Given his form, and the fact that he is still just 22, it will come as no surprise to learn that he’s been linked with a move to the big league this summer. A host of Premier League clubs are said to be weighing up bids for Maupay, including Aston Villa, who are now managed by Smith in the Premier League following play-off final glory in May.
Loaned out to Frank Lampard and Derby County from Liverpool for the 18-19 championship campaign, Harry Wilson is another exciting attacking talent who lit up England’s second division last term during his time at Pride Park; scoring 16 times and providing 4 assists as Frank’s men made it all the way to the play-off final.
Pacey and composed, many pundits are tipping Wilson for the big time and many Liverpool fans have been keeping a close eye on the young Welshman’s progress.
Now 22, and with more competitive matches under his belt, could he make the step up and play any sort of role under Jurgen Klopp? He will certainly offer Liverpool a different option out wide but could he prove to be the difference as the reds aim for a first league title in almost 30 years?
They’re currently priced at around 5/2 with most bookmakers to lift the Premier League crown next season, but it might be worth taking advantage of some matchedbettingsites new customer offers if you fancy backing the reds, especially given that they will do doubt once again face fierce competition in the form of Manchester City, amongst others, for the top domestic prize in English football.
Another exciting attacking talent, this time it’s Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen, the Englishman who made it into the EFL Team of season following an outstanding 2018-19 Championship campaign where he fired in 22 goals and chipped in with 4 assists under the stewardship of Nigel Adkins at the KC.
In January, the youngster, still only 22, was linked with a move to Spurs and there are said to be plenty of other Premier League clubs interested in capturing his signature this summer.
With his ability to play anywhere across the front line, his age and versatility are very attractive features, and each year it seems Bowen is getting better and better after he built on his tally of 14 goals and 1 assist in the 2017-18 Championship season.
Derby County’s ailing defence would be reinvigorated by signing this 23-year-old Scottish wall – Agreed?
Derby County Opinion: Why the Rams should make a move for Liam Lindsay
According to a report from the Derby Telegraph, Derby County are one of the clubs interested in signing Barnsley defender Liam Lindsay.
Liam Lindsay, 23, impressed for Barnsley during the 2018/19 campaign, helping the Tykes achieve promotion to the Championship. The defender, who joined Barnsley from Scottish club Partick Thistle in 2017, made 46 appearances this past season as Daniel Stendel’s side finished second in League One.
However, the 23-year-old defender has just a year left on his contract at the club and Barnsley would prefer to cash in on one of their standout performers rather losing him on a free transfer next summer. The report claims West Brom, Brentford, Stoke City and Middlesbrough are also keen on Lindsay.
But Derby County must do everything possible to beat their Championship rivals to the signing of Liam Lindsay.
Frank Lampard was able to guide Derby to the Championship play-off final last season, in his first season as a manager. He did a fantastic job on his debut season at Pride Park and expectations will be much higher next term. His aim will be to get the Rams over the line and for that to happen, Lampard will need to invest in the right areas over of the squad.
Derby’s need for defensive reinforcements is paramount at the moment. They saw defender and player of the year Fikayo Tomori return back to his parent club Chelsea following the expiry of his loan spell. Alex Pearce is joining Millwall next month, while Efe Ambrose, who was signed a short-term deal on a free transfer from Hibernian in January, has been released.
Liam Lindsay could prove to be an excellent addition for the Rams. The 23-year-old was fantastic with Barnsley in League One, helping the club boast the best defensive record in the division. He would not only add quality to the squad but also some much-needed depth to Lampard’s defensive ranks.
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The Scotsman seemingly has an incredibly promising career ahead of him and as he could be available on a bargain deal this summer, Lampard must not hesitate to pluck him away from Barnsley ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
It appears as though defence is an area Derby will simply have to strengthen to boost their promotion hopes, and they could do worse than to look at a promising defender with huge potential such as Liam Lindsay.
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