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
Much-needed steel and substance – Cardiff City’s midfield would get a new look if they sign this all-action 25-year-old midfielder
Cardiff City Opinion: Bluebirds should go all out in their pursuit of Will Vaulks
BBC understands that Bluebirds’ manager Neil Warnock is under pressure to rebuild his midfield following the club’s relegation to the Championship.
Vaulks was one of the very few shining lights of Rotherham’s otherwise calamitous campaign in the second-tier which ended in relegation to League One.
The 25-year-old was one of the standout performers for the Millers this season and Cardiff want to get him on board in the summer transfer window, although the Welshman signed a new one-year deal with the club back in March.
The defensive midfielder was an ever-present for the Millers in the Championship this past season as he finished the campaign with 7 goals and 7 assists in 41 appearances.
The 25-year-old caught the eye with his consistently impressive performances for a team that spent almost the entire season in a relegation dogfight and move to a bigger club looks very much on the cards for Vaulks.
A youth product of Tranmere Rovers, Vaulks enjoyed a fruitful spell at Falkirk in the Scottish Championship before making his move to Rotherham United back in 2016.
His first season at the club ended in relegation but the 25-year-old was one of the architects of the Millers promotion-winning League One campaign in the following season, bagging the award for the club’s Player of the Year in the process.
Vaulks once again suffered relegation this time around but his stellar run of form didn’t go unnoticed, with Wales boss Ryan Giggs handing him his senior international debut in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago back in March.
Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Vaulks has shown the versatility to switch between holding and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park. A tough-tackling and all-action midfield enforcer noted for his drive, determination, tenacity and work-ethics, Vaulks is adept at cutting out the attacks and breaking up the play with crucial tackles and interceptions.
A set-piece specialist, who is also a very good reader of the game, the Welshman responds very well to the transitions in play and holds things together with his work-rate and range of passing.
Strong in the air and blessed with good distance-shooting abilities, Vaulks excels with his ability to increase cohesion in the middle of the park, while also playing the role of a ball-carrier from the deep areas.
To add to that, the Welshman is also quite creative and has a good eye for picking out key passes in the final third, meaning that he is a good all-around midfielder who can shoulder both attacking and defensive responsibilities.
The 25-year-old averaged 1.5 key passes, 4.3 successful long balls, 2.2 tackles, 1.7 interceptions and 2.3 clearances per game in the Championship this season, figures which should prompt any promotion-chasing side in the second-tier to make a move for him.
To put things into perspective, Cardiff need to look at bargain deals in the market and Will Vaulks is a player who can offer very good value for money.
The Welshman’s stocks are clearly on the rise after his international debut and an impressive season in the Championship. The Bluebirds should look at him as someone who can add a lot of steel and substance to their midfield.
Long-standing Icelandic international Aaron Gunnarsson left the club on a free transfer, while loanees Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter have also returned to their parent clubs, Real Betis and Bournemouth respectively. Hence, it is clear that the Bluebirds need to look to reinforcements to ensure that they have the perfect balance in their squad.
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Cardiff should aim to secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and the acquisition of Will Vaulks could prove to be a massive coup and certainly a step in the right direction.
Derby County signing this 33-year-old defensive stalwart would turn their backline into a formidable force
Derby County Opinion: Why Gary Cahill will be a superb signing for the Rams
According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Derby County want to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in the summer transfer window.
Gary Cahill, 33, is out of contract at Chelsea and will leave the club on a free transfer next month. The former England international played only eight games all season and has not started a match since November.
The veteran defender will be a free agent after seven years at Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard wants to reunite with his former teammate at Pride Park. The report claims Premier League promotion could be the ticket to seal the deal for Cahill, as Lampard plans to make the English defender his first summer signing.
Thus, the Rams know they will have to achieve promotion to stand any chance of beating the likes of West Ham, Southampton and Sheffield United to Cahill’s signature.
Lampard’s Derby are one win away from promotion to the Premier League. They face Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Monday. The Rams’ sole aim for now will be to play Premier League football next season but with the summer transfer now in full swing, Lampard needs to start bring in quality reinforcements.
One area that needs thorough reinforcing is the defence, with a couple of central defenders required at the club. Derby did sign free agent Efe Ambrose in February on a short-term deal until the end of the season but he hasn’t played a single game. As it stands, there are no signs he will still be with the club once the play-off final is over.
Curtis Davies and Richard Keogh are coming towards the end of their careers, while Fikayo Tomori is likely to return back to Chelsea after the expiry of his loan at the end of the season. Thus, to avoid a potential burn out of options, Lampard should bring in Gary Cahill.
Cahill will turn 34 in December but he still can give two-three years of high-quality football. The English defender is physically strong and a dominant presence at both ends of the pitch. He can also play the ball out from the back and a real leader, who will have a crucial role especially when the chips are down.
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Plus, his volumes of Premier League experience will make him such a fantastic addition for the Rams.
The former England international would not only add quality to Derby’s defence but also depth to the squad. All in all, Lampard’s Rams will make a statement of intent ahead of the next season by signing Cahill on a free transfer.
17 goals, 10 assists – Newcastle’s frontline would receive a piercing edge by signing this 22-year-old hitman
Newcastle United Opinion: Wesley Moraes could be the perfect replacement for Rondon
The Chronicle Live understands that the 22-year-old hitman has attracted plenty of interest from clubs in Germany, Italy and England, with recently-crowned Italian cup winners Lazio, as well as east London giants West Ham, believed to be hot on his trail.
Moraes has been in terrific form form Club Brugge this season and shed tears after playing his final game in Belgium. The Brazilian impressed with 17 goals and 10 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions this season and his red-hot form has put him on the radar of some of the Premier League clubs.
The 22-year-old rose through the youth ranks at Brazilian club Itabuna before making his move to Europe with Slovakian club Trencin, where he carved out a reputation for himself as a bright emerging prospect.
Wesley earned a move to Belgian giants Club Brugge back in 2016 and he hasn’t looked back ever since, establishing himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the Belgian top-flight over the course of three-and-a-half seasons at the club.
The Brazilian netted twice in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League this term, including goals against Monaco in both the legs to ensure that the club finished third in their group and qualified to the Europa League. He scored in the Round of 32 tie against Salzburg but that wasn’t enough to send Brugge through to the next round.
Moraes has made a total of 130 appearances for Brugge in all competitions, accumulating 38 goals and 14 assists, and few would argue that he certainly deserves a chance to prove his credentials at a higher level.
Still only 22, he is very much in the developmental stage of his career but he already has plenty of experience and a move to the Premier League could help him announce himself on the bigger stage.
To put things into perspective, Newcastle United can bag a massive coup if they manage to beat off competition and strike a deal for the talented Brazilian frontman this summer.
A young and talented player with potentially high resale value- the 22-year-old perfectly fits the profile of players that owner Mike Ashley likes to target in the transfer market, and the Magpies could have a gem on their hands if he goes on to fulfil his potential at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle are also unlikely to trigger the release clause in West Brom loanee Salomon Rondon’s contract, despite the Venezuelan playing a key role up front this season. Joselu, on the other hand, has fallen way down the pecking order and few would be surprised if the Spaniard decides to move elsewhere.
Suffice to say, Newcastle need to bring in a promising out-and-out centre-forward this summer and Wesley Moraes certainly fits the bill. Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a towering and sinewy frame, the Brazilian is capable of making an impact in the Premier League with his physicality, aerial ability and poaching instincts in front of goal.
Blessed with a good turn of pace and plenty of flair and trickery on the ball, Moraes has the intelligence, agility and sharpness to lose his marker and outsmart the opposition with his clever movement inside the box.
To add to that, he shields the ball really well and often brings his physique into play to hold the ball up with his back to the goal. The youngster has a good eye for a pass and is adept at using short and deft exchanges to link up with his teammates in and around the penalty area, meaning that he is also capable of setting up goals and creating chances.
Having managed to beat the drop in the Premier League for the past two seasons, it is now time for the Magpies to consolidate their position and challenge for a top-ten finish next term.
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If Wesley Moraes manages to replicate the kind of form that he has shown in Belgium, the Magpies could give their mid-table rivals a good run for their money in the league.
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