DERBY COUNTY boss Gary Rowett insisted his team were deserved victors over hosts Leeds United on Tuesday night at Elland Road.
The Rams came from behind after an early Pierre-Michel Lasogga strike put the hosts ahead. Sam Winnall equalised for the visotrs before clinching all three points by slotting home a controversial penalty.
Hadi Sacko appeared to make contact with Derby’s Tom Lawrence outside the box, only for referee Simon Hooper to award a spot-kick.
It was a particularly bitter pill for the hosts and their supporters to take considering the official chose not to award a penalty to the Whites shortly before half-time when Gjanni Alioski appeared to be hauled down by Andre Wisdom.
Despite trailing for more than 70 minutes to Lasogga’s seventh-minute strike, Rowett always felt confident his side would get back into the game.
“They made quite a big thing earlier in the week about scoring the first goal, but I just felt it didn’t matter to us because we’ve shown character all season,” said Rowett in the post-match press conference.
“If we’ve gone behind we’ve still stayed in games. Earlier on in the season, in a couple of games, we tended to open up too early and we allowed teams to counter-attack and, Leeds, that’s why they want the goal so badly because they are a very good counter-attacking side and they drag you into areas and they then break with the pacey players that they have got.
“But I just felt that at 1-0 - as disappointed as I was - we needed to make sure we retained our balance.
“We stayed in the game - not in the sense that they were massively on top of us - but we kept our patience and our goal was an excellent goal and, once we got it, for me, I said to the players at half-time that if you score, I’m telling you now they won’t react well and I certainly felt we were the much stronger team once we scored the goal and, I felt, deservedly won the game.”
I said to the players at half-time that if you score, I’m telling you now they won’t react well and I certainly felt we were the much stronger team once we scored the goal and, I felt, deservedly won the game.Derby County manager, Gary Rowett
On the controversial penalty, Rowett added: “At the time I couldn’t really see because it was over in the far corner. I’ve watched it about five times since and I still can’t work it out.
“I think Tom (Lawrence) ends up about five yards inside the box, but the contact is really very close to the line so it’s very difficult to see. It’s not obviously outside, but it’s not obviously inside either.
“I can understand how Leeds would be a little bit disappointed with that but we felt it was a foul for the first goal so I felt it evened itself out over the course of the game.”
Yorkshire Evening Post
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