Derby County secured their place in the Championship play-off final at Wembley as they beat Brighton 4-1 to clinch a 6-2 aggregate semi-final victory.

The Rams, who led 2-1 after the first leg, extended their lead when Will Hughes flicked in Jamie Ward's cross.

Chris Martin bundled the ball over the line after Ward's knock-down and George Thorne volleyed in a spectacular third.

Jeff Hendrick made it 4-0 after Patrick Bamford's pull-back, before Kazenga Lua Lua's consolation from 18 yards.

Analysis

"It has been a great day for Derby and they thoroughly deserved it.

"They looked a far better team, but credit to Brighton. They have got to the play-offs for two years running, but they were just outplayed by Derby."

Brighton, who have never played in the Premier League, have lost in the play-offs in two successive seasons.

But this was a deserved victory for Derby, who will play either Wigan Athletic or Queens Park Rangers in the final on Saturday, 24 May.

Steve McClaren's side, who finished 13 points above their opponents, benefited from a controversial 22nd-minute decision from referee Craig Pawson.

He only booked Hendrick for a lunge on Brighton's Rohan Ince when he could easily have sent the midfielder off.

And the hosts were in front 12 minutes later, when Hughes back-heeled Ward's left-wing delivery home for his first goal since 9 November.

Derby, who were last in the top flight in the 2007-08 season, nearly made it 2-0 on the night as Ward charged down Tomasz Kuszczak's attempted clearance, but the ball bounced over the bar.

Derby extend unbeaten run

Derby County have won seven and drawn one of their past eight games

Brighton's top goalscorer Leonardo Ulloa had a chance to pull a goal back when he collected Jesse Lingard's intelligent lofted pass, only to be denied by Lee Grant's excellent save.

Any hopes of a fightback ended in the 56th minute as Martin grabbed his 25th goal of the season following Ward's unselfish header across the face of goal.

Oscar Garcia's side fell further behind on 76 minutes as Thorne volleyed in a spectacular third after Brighton failed to clear Johnny Russell's shot.

It was 4-0 when Hendrick converted after fine work from Bamford, though Lua Lua did at least give Brighton fans something to cheer with a composed finish from the edge of the penalty area.

This was Derby's day, though, and they can look forward to a trip to Wembley.

They will learn the identity of their final opponents on Monday, when QPR and Wigan play their second leg at Loftus Road after a 0-0 draw at the DW Stadium.

Derby manager Steve McClaren said:

"It is a great achievement by the players. We did not perform as we can on Thursday but they were awesome today, wearing Brighton down with their energy, enthusiasm and bringing the end product as well.

"It is a one-off game at Wembley and if we play like that we are a match for anyone."

Brighton manager Oscar Garcia said:

"They were much better than us and deserved the win.

"We have had a lot of injuries and we played the most important game of the season with four or five under-21 players.

"We wanted to give everything and gamble, but it didn't pay off. They are extremely good in front of goal and we did not play very well, but we have no regrets."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

Derby County

  • 01 Grant
  • 33 Wisdom
  • 03 Forsyth
  • 34 Thorne
  • 06 Keogh
  • 25 Buxton
  • 08 Hendrick Booked
  • 19 Hughes (Eustace - 85' )
  • 09 Martin
  • 11 Russell (Bamford - 78' )
  • 10 Ward (Dawkins - 67' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Naylor
  • 14 Eustace
  • 18 Sammon
  • 26 Legzdins
  • 27 Whitbread
  • 32 Dawkins
  • 35 Bamford

Brighton & Hove Albion

  • 29 Kuszczak
  • 14 Calderón
  • 17 Ward
  • 38 Ince
  • 03 Greer (Chicksen - 24' Booked )
  • 05 Dunk Booked
  • 30 Buckley (Lua Lua - 57' )
  • 04 Andrews
  • 19 Ulloa Booked
  • 11 Orlandi (Mackail-Smith - 57' )
  • 35 Lingard

Substitutes

  • 01 Brezovan
  • 10 Agustien
  • 12 Mackail-Smith
  • 15 Chicksen
  • 18 Forster-Caskey
  • 25 Lua Lua
  • 27 March
Ref: Craig Pawson

Match Stats

Shots

14 7

On target

7 4

Corners

6 1

Fouls

11 15

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Derby County 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

90:00 +2:54 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Derby County 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

90:00 +1:58

Attempt missed. Kazenga Lua Lua (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jesse Lingard.

88:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 1. Kazenga Lua Lua (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leonardo Ulloa.

87:50

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

87:50

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:34 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Patrick Bamford.

86:20

Patrick Bamford (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

86:20

Foul by Stephen Ward (Brighton and Hove Albion).

86:10

John Eustace (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:10

Foul by Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion).

84:24

George Thorne (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:24

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

84:02 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. John Eustace replaces Will Hughes.

83:16

Will Hughes (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

83:16

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

82:21

Attempt blocked. Adam Chicksen (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kazenga Lua Lua.

81:57

Foul by George Thorne (Derby County).

81:57

Jesse Lingard (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:55 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. Patrick Bamford replaces Johnny Russell.

77:18

Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) wins a free kick on the left wing.

77:18

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

75:30 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. George Thorne (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner.

75:28

Attempt blocked. Simon Dawkins (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Johnny Russell.

74:29

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Craig Mackail-Smith.

74:27

Attempt blocked. Johnny Russell (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

73:34

Johnny Russell (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

73:34

Foul by Adam Chicksen (Brighton and Hove Albion).

71:55

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Adam Chicksen.

71:20

Attempt saved. Kazenga Lua Lua (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lewis Dunk.

69:24

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

69:24

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:58

Attempt saved. Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Íñigo Calderón.

66:44 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. Simon Dawkins replaces Jamie Ward.

64:59

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Lewis Dunk.

64:57

Attempt blocked. Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jamie Ward with a headed pass.

63:52

Attempt saved. Johnny Russell (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

62:13

Foul by Jake Buxton (Derby County).

62:13

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

60:56

Foul by George Thorne (Derby County).

60:56

Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

59:41

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Tomasz Kuszczak.

59:39

Attempt saved. Jamie Ward (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Chris Martin.

58:57

Foul by Johnny Russell (Derby County).

58:57

Adam Chicksen (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:55 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Craig Mackail-Smith replaces Andrea Orlandi.

56:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Kazenga Lua Lua replaces William Buckley.

56:00 Booking

Booking Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

55:27 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. Chris Martin (Derby County) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jamie Ward with a headed pass.

47:52

Foul by Jamie Ward (Derby County).

47:52

William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:04

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

45:04

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

45:00

Second Half begins Derby County 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

45:00 +2:38 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Derby County 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

45:00 +2:10 Booking

Booking Adam Chicksen (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

45:00 +1:40

Johnny Russell (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +1:40

Foul by Adam Chicksen (Brighton and Hove Albion).

43:15

Attempt saved. Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jesse Lingard with a through ball.

42:16

Foul by Jamie Ward (Derby County).

42:16

Íñigo Calderón (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

41:43

Foul by Will Hughes (Derby County).

41:43

Andrea Orlandi (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

40:12

Attempt missed. Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Adam Chicksen with a cross.

37:24

Foul by George Thorne (Derby County).

37:24

Jesse Lingard (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. Will Hughes (Derby County) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Craig Forsyth with a cross.

32:42

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Lewis Dunk.

32:41

Attempt blocked. George Thorne (Derby County) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Assisted by Chris Martin.

32:11

Will Hughes (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:11

Foul by Jesse Lingard (Brighton and Hove Albion).

30:32

Johnny Russell (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

30:32

Foul by Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion).

29:59

Attempt blocked. Chris Martin (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Craig Forsyth.

29:46

Attempt missed. Jake Buxton (Derby County) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jamie Ward following a set piece situation.

29:34 Booking

Booking Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

29:00

Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

29:00

Foul by Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion).

28:41

Will Hughes (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

28:41

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

26:11

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Íñigo Calderón.

23:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Adam Chicksen replaces Gordon Greer because of an injury.

22:52

Attempt missed. Craig Forsyth (Derby County) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jamie Ward.

21:36 Booking

Booking Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

21:28

Foul by Jeff Hendrick (Derby County).

21:28

Rohan Ince (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:29

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Will Hughes.

16:41

Attempt saved. Andre Wisdom (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jeff Hendrick.

7:48

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

7:48

Foul by Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion).

7:20

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

7:20

Foul by Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion).

5:38

Foul by Stephen Ward (Brighton and Hove Albion).

5:38

Johnny Russell (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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