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Match Recap: Leeds lose 4-2 to Derby County and are out of the playoffs

It was always gonna end like this, wasn’t it?

Leeds United v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Play-off Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Leeds United hosted Derby County at Elland Road with the opportunity to go to Wembley and face off against Aston Villa for the right to get promoted to the Premier League. And while Leeds played well for large stretches of the game, a goalkeeping howler combined with a sending off and a team that was obviously running on fumes meant that Leeds were unable to pull off a victory, meaning that Derby will now go to Wembley for the opportunity to be relegated next season for promotion.

Leeds took a 2-0 overall lead in the 26th minute after a Kalvin Phillips free-kick came off the bar and into the path of Stuart Dallas who put the ball into the back of the net. Liam Cooper had gotten a head to the free kick and although he was able to direct the ball past the keeper, it didn’t beat the post, luckily for Leeds that the ball bounced right into the path of Dallas who easily finished for the opening goal.

The referee also started to make the game a farce, handing out cards for seemingly innocuous challenges from Phillips and to Patrick Bamford for diving(?) in the penalty box after he was run over by Richard Keogh.

Derby got a goal right before half-time after Kiko Casilla and Liam Cooper failed to properly deal with a through-ball and Jack Marriott pounced on the loose ball and made no mistake. The former Peterborough striker had literally just come onto the pitch as Lampard had taken Duane Holmes off only minutes before.

Derby got another goal right after the restart of the game as Leeds looked totally and completely flat-footed and allowed Derby’s Mason Mount an easy shot to put Derby up 2-1 on the night and level 2-2 on aggregate.

Leeds continued to show defensive fragility, although Jack Harrison had a shot blocked in the box. And while Leeds drifted in and out of the match, Liam Cooper pulled down his man, and despite the fact that he wasn’t close to the ball, a penalty was awarded. Harry Wilson converted, sending Casilla the wrong way and giving Derby the lead.

But wait! There’s more!

Stuart Dallas scored a brilliant goal in the 62nd minute, drawing the teams level on aggregate and handing Leeds a lifeline. The usual sinking feeling that comes with being a Leeds fan had started to take over, but some hope had been restored.

Leeds were reduced to 10 men in the 78th minute after Gaetano Berardi lost his damn mind and plowed into Bradley Johnson, drawing a second yellow and his marching orders. A truly stupid time to pull off a tackle like that.

Marriott scored another goal late in the match to give Derby another lead in the match. Once again, Leeds were exposed defensively and were carved open far, far too easily. For so much of the season, Leeds had been solid defensively, but giving up four goals in the second leg of a playoff semifinal is just too much.

Derby themselves got a player sent off in stoppage time, but it was always going to be too little too late, as Leeds had just run out of steam, out of bodies, and out of ability with half the first team out injured.

In the end, it was just not to be, despite the absolutely remarkable season. Here’s hoping some of those great U23s come through next season.