Derby book Wembley final after Jack Marriott stuns Leeds in thriller

 
 Jack Marriott celebrates scoring the decisive fourth goal, his second of the night, for Derby against Leeds to set up a Championship play-off final with Aston Villa. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

After as rambunctious a play-off second leg as can possibly be imagined Derby claimed the right to face Aston Villa in the final on 27 May to try for promotion to the Premier League. It was end-to-end entertainment all night, a feast of incident, goals and excitement, and neither side – both reduced to 10 men – deserved to lose.

It never ceases to astonish how full-blooded and thrilling play-offs can be, when both sides must know the likely prize on offer, financial considerations aside, will be a season of toil and tribulation in the top flight. Dreams shattered, Leeds players hit the deck in the manner of Ajax a week ago as the final whistle sounded. They had been true to Marcelo Bielsa’s attacking traditions but let themselves down in defence on a couple of occasions. Frank Lampard now has a shot at the big time at the end of his first season as manager.

Leeds had started brightly before being pushed back and were struggling to get the ball into the Derby box before they were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out. Kalvin Phillips flighted it perfectly and though the ball may not have made any contact with Patrick Bamford’s forehead the striker proved a distraction. Kelle Roos could not prevent the cross striking an upright and Dallas tucked away the rebound.

With a 2-0 aggregate deficit Lampard’s strategy had no chance of succeeding, and aAs the Leeds fans turned up the volume there were some predictable taunts at the Derby manager and his Chelsea background. Events were quite feisty on the pitch as well, with Scott Malone and Pablo Hernández booked after a touchline clash, Phillips picking up a card for a poor challenge on Harry Wilson and Bamford being given a yellow for simulation in the Derby area.

Leeds were making good progress down the right wing with Hernández and Mateusz Klich finding space, and a cross from the latter might have broken the deadlock even earlier had not Luke Ayling put his volley over the bar. Mason Bennett hit the post with a looping header a couple of minutes before the interval, yet though that indicated Derby were still capable of getting back on terms the manner in which they did so surprised everyone.

Casilla came out of his area then retreated, leaving Cooper to hurriedly attempt to clear, and the ball squirted between the two of them to leave Marriott to find an open goal with his first touch. It was not the conclusion to the first half Leeds wanted, and when Casilla managed to leave his area again before half-time without properly giving Gaetano Berardi time to clear there were audible grumbles from the fans behind his goal.

Leeds tried frantically to regain the lead, only to come up against some inspired Derby defending. Jayden Bogle cleared off the line from Phillips, Roos stood up to a fierce shot from Bradley Johnson and when a follow-up came in at even greater velocity Malone bravely stuck his face in the way.

Dallas took a neat return pass from Klich to burst into the area and beat Roos with a firmly struck low shot for his second goal.

Emotions were still running high and Berardi’s temper got the better of him as he was goaded into retaliation in the 78th minute to pick up a second yellow nine minutes after his first. The right-back punched the extendable tunnel in frustration as he left the pitch and Leeds had to see out the remainder of the game with 10 men.

Bogle had a penalty appeal turned down, Wilson struck a post when he really should have scored but finally, with five minutes left, Marriott closed the second half as he had ended the first, with a well-taken goal after Keogh won the ball to start the move and then produced the decisive pass to Marriott.

Malone earned a late dismissal for a second yellow, while Isiah Brown and Jack Clarke tested Roos in the closing seconds but the goalkeeper stood firm to leave Leeds on the floor.

source – guardian.com

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