Fulham 2-0 Derby (2-1 agg): Ryan Sessegnon steers Cottagers into play-off final
By Simeon Gholam at Craven Cottage
Last Updated: 15/05/18 8:52am
Ryan Sessegnon inspired Fulham's passage to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley as they saw off Derby at Craven Cottage on Monday night.
Derby had a one-goal lead from the first leg of their semi-final, but Sessegnon struck the leveller shortly after half-time and then teed up Denis Odoi for the vital winner as they secured a 2-0 win on the night and a 2-1 triumph on aggregate.
For Fulham it's a first trip to Wembley in 43 years, they will now face either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough for a place in the Premier League, with Villa leading their tie 1-0 on aggregate heading into the second leg at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
Both sides made one change from the first leg. Aboubakar Kamara came in for Floyd Ayite for Fulham, and Ikechi Anya replaced Matej Vydra for Derby.
Fulham dominated the first half in search of an equaliser and were denied by two superb saves from Scott Carson ad each end of the half.
Early on a slip up the Derby defence allowed Fulham a three-on-one counter-attack, but Carson did brilliantly on the stretch to deny Sessegnon's drive from the edge of the area. His second stop was even better right on the stroke of half-time as well, as he somehow managed to keep out Aleksandar Mitrovic's powerful header with his arm from point-blank range.
Finally, however, Fulham did level the tie. Sessegnon missed his chance early in the first half but the remarkable 17-year-old wouldn't make the same mistake early in the second. There were 47 minutes on the clock when Stefan Johansen's knockdown found the youngster in the box, and he rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
And the youngster turned creator for Fulham's vital second after 66 minutes as his corner found the head of Odoi, who rose at the near post to find the top corner.
Gary Rowett immediately turned to his bench for reinforcements as Matej Vydra and Kasey Palmer entered the fray, but they never really looked like getting back level and Fulham managed to see the game out and seal their path to the final.
Fulham: Bettinelli (7), Fredericks (7), Odoi (8), Ream (7), Targett (7), McDonald (7), Cairney (8), Johansen (7), Kamara (8), Sessegnon (8), Mitrovic (8)
Subs: Norwood (n/a), Kalas (n/a)
Derby: Carson (8), Wisdom (6), Keogh (5), Davies (6), Forsyth (6), Anya (6), Huddlestone (6), Johnson (5), Weimann (5), Lawrence (5), Jerome (4)
Subs: Palmer (n/a), Vydra (n/a), Nugent (n/a)
Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Man of the match - Aleksandar Mitrovic
He may not have got himself on the scoresheet but there was very little else wrong with Mitrovic's display at Craven Cottage on Monday night. Curtis Davies got the better of him in the first leg but the Serbian completely dominated here.
Slavisa Jokanovic: "We've beaten many records this year and we're really proud and happy, but we know it's not enough yet just to take the fans to Wembley. We need to start working for this game because the whole season will depend on it.
"It's important we show enough quality and confidence to win the game, but for no we'll clear our minds and rest our bodies to prepare."
Gary Rowett: "They were two very, very poor goals for us to give away. We didn't make those mistakes in the first leg; we were very defensively concentrated in the first leg. We didn't do the same in the second leg but did but I think our composure let us down tonight."
"Our disappointment is that we've got lots of players in there who've played in these types of games before, but yet in some ways we've looked the more inexperienced team in the way we moved the ball. But that's what these games do, they test you and you've got to show nerves of steel.
When's the play-off final?
The Sky Bet Championship play-off final is at Wembley on Saturday, May 26, live on Sky Sports Football with kick-off at 5pm.