Derby took Premier League champions Leicester all the way to extra time before the home side scored two brilliant individual goals to ensure it would be they who progressed to the next round.
With both sides having big league matches at the weekend, there was eighteen changes made altogether. This was clear in a first half of very few chances. Leicester did almost take the lead at the midway point, when a great run, and then cross by winger Demarai Gray set up Ahmed Musa who with the goal gaping, couldn’t quite reach the ball to give his side the advantage.
Derby winger Ikechi Anya, starting for the first time since injury early last month, caused the home side problems with a quick flurry of runs and then crosses, which on a number of occasions, almost found a Derby player. The Rams had the first shot on target when after a period of sustained pressure in first half added time, Jacob Butterfield struck a low left footed effort which was pushed wide by Leicester keeper Robert Zieler to keep honours even at the break.
Within seconds of the game restarting, the Foxes drew first blood. Winger Demarai Gray was again the master of Derby’s problems, he whipped in a cross to the back post which was then headed back across goal by Marc Albrighton to the head of Andy King who finished from four yards out.
Derby then had to hold on for the next few minutes as Leicester continued their momentum and pushed for a second. About five minutes after the goal, it was the Rams who began to dominate the game and they equalised on the hour. After a high foot from Albrighton, the referee gave a free kick which was laid off by Julien de Sart and then hit towards goal by Abdoul Camara, the winger’s shot took a huge deflection, taking the ball into the back of the net, sending the 4,800 away fans into raptures as the score was level.
Both sides pushed for a late winner but were unable to find it – sending the game into extra time as Leicester and Derby couldn’t be separated over the two games.
Less than four minutes into the first period of extra time Leicester retook the lead. After a quick counter attack, substitute Wilfred Ndidi hit a fantastic left footed shot which went past Derby keeper Jonathan Mitchell then in off the post. Like Camara, this was Ndidi’s first goal in English football after signing for around £15 million from Belgian side Genk last month.
As a tired Derby looked for an equaliser, Leicester won the ball back and quickly countered before Gray went on a brilliant run and smashed past Mitchell, similarly to how Tom Ince did against Forest in December. The goal put the result beyond all doubt and ensured a vital victory for the struggling Foxes who sit just one point above the Premier League’s bottom three.
Though they lost quite comfortably in the end, a Rams side containing a number of players who’d been out for months managed to battle with, and dominate Leicester for large periods of the game. Many players also gave Derby boss Steve McClaren lots to think about in terms of his selection for Saturday’s match against Bristol City at Pride Park.