London (AFP) – Jack Marriott scored twice as he started and finished a dramatic revival that saw Derby County beat Leeds United 4-2 on Wednesday to complete a 4-3 aggregate comeback win and reach the English Championship play-off final.
Former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard is now one game away from taking the Rams back into the lucrative Premier League in his first season as a manager, with Aston Villa their opponents at Wembley on May 27.
Leeds, already 1-0 up from the first leg, scored first in front of their own fans at Elland Road on Wednesday.
But Marriott’s first goal seconds before half-time got the Rams back into contention and he settled a match which ended with both sides down to 10 men by scoring again five minutes from full-time.
Derby’s victory was all the more impressive given Lampard’s sixth-placed side had only just scraped into the playoffs.
“I said to the lads that everyone had written us off. We needed the lads to show bravery on the ball and they did,” Lampard told Sky Sports.
“We have to enjoy the moment but now prepare for Aston Villa, but we’ll be underdogs again.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, speaking via a translator, was left regretting his side’s failure to make the most of their first-half dominance.
“We should have made a bigger difference in the first half,” he said.
Leeds were a man down 12 minutes from time when Gaetano Berardi was sent off, with veteran Argentine manager Bielsa adding this had made the game “unbalanced”.
Wednesday’s match between two of English football’s leading clubs of the early 1970s came after Leeds’ defeat of Derby in January was overshadowed by the ‘spygate’ affair that saw Bielsa admit he had sent a staff member to ‘spy’ on a Rams training session before the game.
Leeds took a 24th-minute lead on the night through Stuart Dallas after Kalvin Phillips’ free-kick hit a post.
Derby though scored just before half-time when substitute Marriott capitalised on a mix-up between Leeds defender Liam Cooper and goalkeeper Kiko Casilla moments after coming on.
They drew level on aggregate straight after the break when Harry Wilson played in Mason Mount, who cut inside from the left and beat Casilla.
Derby then went ahead in the tie for the first time in the 58th minute when Cooper needlessly conceded a penalty following a pull on Mason Bennett in the area, with Wilson scoring from the spot.