Frank Lampard spent two decades as one of the Premier League’s best midfielders.
Now as a manager, he’s guided Derby County to the cusp of the English top flight.
Jack Marriott scored twice, including the clinching goal, as Lampard’s Derby side beat Leeds United 4-2 away in the second leg of their Championship play-off semifinal.
That gave Derby a 4-3 aggregate victory, and the Rams will face Aston Villa in the play-off final on May 27, with the winner earning promotion to the Premier League.
In the Championship, England’s second tier league, the top two finishers are promoted automatically while the teams that finish third through sixth enter a four-team tournament for the final spot.
Leeds beat Derby 1-0 in the first leg, and took the lead thanks to Stuart Dallas’ goal midway through the first half Wednesday. Shortly before halftime, Marriott came on for United States international Duane Holmes and leveled the match with his first touch (highlights via ESPN):
Almost immediately after halftime, Mason Mount put Derby ahead on both the afternoon and aggregate by cutting back and placing his finish despite slipping:
In the 58th minute, Derby’s Harry Wilson converted a penalty kick after teammate Mason Bennett was brought down in the box by Leeds defender Liam Cooper.
Dallas handed Leeds a lifeline by scoring again four minutes later, but Marriott rocked the tie to sleep by chipping Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla off a through-ball from teammate Richard Keogh in the 85th minute:
Derby hasn’t been in the Premier League since 2008, when the club finished with a record-low 11 points over the 38-game campaign. Lampard will face his longtime Chelsea teammate John Terry, who is an assistant coach with Aston Villa, in the play-off final.
Leeds, meanwhile, will spend its 16th consecutive season outside the Premier League, and it’s a safe bet plenty of opposing fans are happy about it. Leeds has developed a corrosive reputation for a variety of reasons, and is bitter rivals with pretty much every member of the old guard of English soccer.
Leeds won the last top flight title before the advent of the Premier League in 1992, but suffered a financial implosion around the turn of the century and fell from its perch toward the top of the English game. This is the closest Leeds has come to the PL since 2006, when the club lost the play-off final.
More recently, manager Marcelo Bielsa volunteered soccer’s own version of Spygate by admitting Leeds has regularly spied on opponents.
Derby did not let them off the hook for it.
Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.
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