Derby County will face Aston Villa in the Championship Play-off final after Jack Marriott came off the bench to score a brace in a breath-taking semi-final second leg at Elland Road on Wednesday evening.
Marriott was sent on by Rams manager Frank Lampard just before half-time with the visitors trailing 1-0 on the night and 2-0 on aggregate after Stuart Dallas tapped home on 24 minutes.
The striker’s impact was instant as he took advantage of a calamitous mix-up between Kiko Casillaand Liam Cooper to slot home with his first touch just 33 seconds after coming on.
Derby came from two goals down in the tie to reach Wembley in styleReuters
Derby then pulled level on aggregate minutes after the interval when Harry Wilson slipped in Mason Mount for the Chelsea loanee to keep his composure to finish into the corner.
Wilson then converted from the penalty spot after Liam Cooper tugged back Mason Bennett to put Derby ahead before Leeds hit back thanks to a fabulous second from Dallas.
The home side lost Gaetano Berardi to a second yellow for a risky challenge before Marriott popped up minutes before the end to seal a dramatic victory on an astonishing evening of football.
There was still time for Scott Malone to be dismissed for a second bookable offence meaning he misses the final, but the Rams held on to become the first side in the history of the Play-Offs to lose at home in the first leg of a second-tier semi-final and progress.
” Over the two legs we deserved it, and it was a huge performance. There’s still work to do. We’re still the underdogs against a brilliant Villa team, but we’re there.”
“I said everyone had written us off. But we needed that bravery on the ball, and the lads showed that.”
Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring the opening goal-Getty Images
Leeds, who won just one of their last six league games, became the first team in the 33-year history of the Play-offs to fail to reach the Championship final having won the first leg away from home. After 700 consecutive games outside of the top flight, they will contest at least another 46 matches in the second tier next season.
Even more damaging will be the fact that no side in the last 10 years in the Championship at Christmas have failed to achieve promotion, but on Wednesday night, they succumbed to the pressure in quite spectacular fashion with the Derby fans chanting “Leeds are falling apart again”.
Pablo Hernandez is consoled by Stuart Dallas-Getty Images
Jack Marriott slots home the equaliser on the stroke of half-time-Getty Images