May 14, 2018 / 8:51 PM / 2 months ago

Fulham beat Derby to reach playoff final

(Reuters) - Fulham beat Derby County 2-0 (2-1 aggregate) at Craven Cottage on Monday to move into the final of the Championship playoffs where they will play Aston Villa or Middlesbrough.

Soccer Football - Championship Play Off Semi Final Second Leg - Fulham vs Derby County - Craven Cottage, London, Britain - May 14, 2018 Derby's Andreas Weimann goes down under a challenge from Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon leading to appeals for a penalty Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

Second half goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi earned Fulham the victory as they seek a return to the Premier League which they were relegated from in 2014.

Derby have now missed out in the playoffs three times in the past five seasons.

The playoff final will be held at Wembley Stadium on May 26. Villa host Middlesbrough on Tuesday and lead 1-0 from the first leg.

Fulham attacked from the outset but Derby keeper Scott Carson frustrated them throughout the first half with a series of fine saves.

A one-handed effort kept out a strong header from Fulham’s Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Carson was at his best again to keep out a powerful drive from Aboubakar Kamara.

But Slavisa Jokanovic’s side finally got reward for the efforts two minutes after the interval when 17-year-old Sessegnon showed great composure to drive home a left-foot shot from inside the area.

The decisive goal came in the 66th minute when Belgian Odoi beat Carson with a brilliantly angled header from a corner.

Fulham head to Wembley for the first time since they lost the FA Cup final to West Ham in 1975.

“This club needs this kind of happiness,” said Jokanovic, “After 43 years we will play at Wembley and it is an important achievement for us.

“We deserve this victory and a chance to reach the Premier League. The players showed great belief and confidence and it is credit to my players,” he said.

Derby boss Gary Rowett felt his team had been too nervous.

“I think our composure let us down tonight, we made far too many mistakes on the ball, we looked a bit edgy to be honest,” he said.

“They outplayed us in the second-leg and they more than deserve to go through.”

Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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