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