The first leg took place on Saturday 11th May at Pride Park. Derby was going into the tie as underdogs having lost 4-1 and 2-0 to Leeds earlier this season. Despite this, Derby was going into the tie as the in-form team having not be beaten in their last six, whereas Leeds had failed to record a win in their last four. A good sign for the Rams, but form is temporary. Leeds dominated the first leg in all areas of the game. Derby even failed to register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. A strike by Leeds United attacker, Kemar Roofe, was enough to settle the tie giving the Yorkshire club the advantage for the second leg. Derby was awarded a penalty during the game, although after consultation with the linesman this decision the ref reversed his decision and awarded free kick in favour of Leeds. Bielsa one, Lampard nil.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening and both sides would go to battle once again at Elland Road. Leeds were heavy favourites to go through to the final, especially after their 1-0 victory in the first leg. The Yorkshire club picked up from where they let off, as winger Stuart Dallas gave them an early lead on the 24th minute. Lampard and his players looked down and out. With their main hitman, Martyn Waghorn out through injury, it looked all hope was lost for the Rams. Que the introduction of Jack Marriott on the 44th minute. Within a minute of being on the pitch, the 24-year-old striker was there to pounce on a mix up between Cooper and Casilla to score with his first touch. A goal right before half time, exactly what Derby needed. Now Lampard had to deliver his most important half-time speech during his short stint as manager. And well, it’s safe to say whatever he said or done worked a treat. The Rams came flying out in the second half and levelled up the tie inside a minute with a goal from Chelsea Loanee, Mason Mount. The night was about to get even better for the men in black and whole lot worse for Cooper. The Leeds defender brought down Derby striker, Mason Bennett inside the Leeds penalty area and the ref awarded a penalty. No doubt in the referees mind this time and Derby were gifted a huge opportunity to take the lead for the first time in this tie. Wilson calmly netted the penalty pass the helpless Casilla and it was now Derby in pole position for the final. Well that was for a whole four minutes until that man again, Stuart Dallas, neatly curled the ball into the far corner passed Roos. The tie was level and what a game this was turning out to be. A back and forth battle between two of English football’s fallen giants. Time was running out for both teams and it was looking like the next goal from either side would win the tie. Well, fortunately for the Derby fans that goal came on the 85th minute. A through ball from centre back, Richard Keogh, found the feet of Marriott and the former Peterborough striker was there to excellently dink the ball over the on rushing Casilla. Hysteria for the Derby fans and despair for the Leeds fans. Derby were heading to Wembley, whilst Leeds were heading for another year in the Championship. As the ref blew the whistle, it was Frank Lampard who would get the last laugh. Leeds were left to wipe their tears as they had to concede to the fact, they will not be a Premier League for another season. Oh, the irony.
Derby will now go on to face Aston Villa at Wembley in the richest game of football. Both sides will fancy their chances, although many will fancy Villa to progress due to the quality they possess throughout their team. After the two legs you can never right Derby off and the Championship is one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world. I suppose one of the most interesting things to look forward to in the final is the battle between two good friends in Frank Lampard and John Terry. Lets see what Chelsea Legend can come out on top.