Derby County booked their place in the Championship play-off final with a dramatic second leg victory at Leeds United.
Leeds led 1-0 from the first leg and Stuart Dallas doubled their advantage, but first-half substitute Jack Marriott equalised just before the break.
Derby then scored twice more early in the second half through Mason Mount and Harry Wilson before Dallas scored again to level the tie up.
Gaetano Berardi’s red card with 10 minutes to go handed the visitors the impetus, and Marriott struck his second to send Derby through.
Here are the winners and losers from an incredible night at Elland Road.
Winner: Frank Lampard
Going into half-time, Leeds were in total control. Stuart Dallas had put them 1-0 up and they were unfortunate not to have doubled their advantage. Frank Lampard responded by making a change two minutes before the break. Strange timing – or so it seemed.
The 2019 Championship playoff final: Derby County vs. Aston Villa.
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Duane Holmes, who had started on the right of a misguided diamond, was hooked for striker Jack Marriott. It turned out to be an inspired decision by Lampard. Marriott immediately took advantage of a mix-up in the Leeds defence and levelled the score on the night with his very first touch.
Even Lampard will admit he got his tactics slightly wrong from the beginning, but it’s a promising sign for his managerial career that the former Chelsea midfielder is able to make brave choices in the biggest matches.
Winner: Jack Marriott
An extra word must be given to Marriott. Lampard was the man behind the decision, but Marriott repaid his manager’s faith in him with a brace that made history.
None of the previous 17 teams to lose the first leg of a Championship play-off semi-final at home had progressed to the final. Marriott changed that with arguably the two most important goals of the tie; his first got Derby going and his second sent the Rams’ fans into dreamland.
The striker will be in Lampard’s ear from now until the final about a starting place at Wembley.
Loser: The Leeds defence
Derby’s first-half tactical switch may have been influential, but Derby were given a massive helping hand by Leeds’ atrocious defending. Centre-back Liam Cooper and goalkeeper Kiko Casilla were all at sea for the equaliser, and the latter also made the exact same error moments later as a result of his rash decision making.
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The former Real Madrid man would rush off his line even when there were enough defenders in front of him to deal with the situation, sending the entire back line intro disarray. Cooper was also a repeat offender, giving the penalty away for Derby’s third goal.
It was an open game for start to finish, but Leeds made more errors than Derby and that was decisive.
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Winner: Stuart Dallas
It would be a little harsh to criticise the entire Leeds defence, because one member of it was a key figure in this extraordinary second leg. Stuart Dallas, who played at left-back but was given plenty of license to roam, played an instrumental role by scoring twice.
Central midfielder Kalvin Phillips often drops in between the centre-backs, allowing the full-backs – Dallas and Luke Ayling – to bomb forward whenever possible. It sometimes leaves the defence exposed, but it also gives Leeds an additional threat going forward.
Dallas made the most of that threat. His first goal was an opportunistic tap-in after a free-kick hit the post, but his second was excellent wing-back play; the Northern Ireland international cut inside from the left and finished brilliantly across the goalkeeper with his right foot.
Over the course of the season Dallas has had to be patient, spending long spells out of the team. But he took his opportunity here and then some. He even hit the bar, coming agonisingly close to a hat-trick.
Loser: Gaetano Berardi
After Derby’s remarkable comeback threatened to end the tie prematurely, Leeds settled, hit back through Dallas and regained a sense of control. Going into the final 10 minutes, it felt like Marcelo Bielsa’s side were building up a head of steam once more.
That was until Gaetano Berardi flew into two tackles in the space of a second despite the fact he was already on a yellow card. His dismissal ultimately swung the tie in Derby’s favour. There will be few people with bigger regrets this season than Berardi.
It’s worth noting Derby also finished the game with 10 men. Scott Malone saw red late on and will now miss the final.
Winners: Liverpool and Chelsea
Derby’s Premier League loanees were pivotal for Lampard’s side. Mount and Wilson scored their ninth and 16th goals of the season respectively in between Marriott’s strikes, bringing top-flight quality to the scrappiest of matches.
Derby are the first team in Championship playoff history to progress to the final having lost the first leg at home.
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It’s great news for Chelsea and Liverpool, who will make decisions on the future of their young players this summer. Chelsea, in particular, are in luck; the Blues’ transfer ban means they could make use of Mount’s ability next term.
Alternatively, Liverpool could either implement Wilson into the first-team squad or make plenty of money by selling him on before the start of next season. It’s a win-win situation for the Merseysiders, but the supporters will be hoping Klopp can work with Wilson and help the youngster fulfil his huge potential.
Loser: Leeds fans
Leeds’ absence from the top-flight will now enter its 16th year, and it couldn’t be in more painful circumstances.
Bielsa’s men were excellent all season and more than once it looked like they would pip Sheffield United to the second automatic promotion spot. Somehow, it wasn’t to be. The Leeds fans made Elland Road imposingly loud throughout but it wasn’t enough as Derby took advantage of mistakes to punish the Yorkshire side.
When the hosts took the lead, there was a party atmosphere among the home supporters. It made the shock of the final result all the more excruciating. What else can Leeds do to return to the Premier League?