by Mark Denham, from Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff City beat Leicester City 4-3 on penalties to secure their place in the play-off final against Blackpool.
City had taken the lead after twenty-one minutes when Michael Chopra broke free of the defence to strike past Chris Weale.
But Leicester equalised minutes later when Matty Fryatt bundled the ball past David Marshall.
Leicester then took the lead when Mark Hudson put the ball into his own net after Steve Howard's knockdown.
The Foxes went 3-1 up three minutes into the second half, when Andy King stole a march on the Leicester defence to nod home.
A Peter Whittingham penalty levelled things up with twenty minutes to go after Chopra had been fouled in the area but despite opportunities, there were no further goals.
The game went into a tense period of extra time, when neither side had that many clear cut opportunities to win it. Penalties were next up.
It was 3-3 on penalties, before Yann Kermorgant's extravagant chip was kept out by Marshall. Mark Kennedy then made it 4-3, before Marshall kept out Martyn Waghorn's penalty to send the Stadium into raptures.
The Bluebirds kicked off from right to left attacking the Grange End in what was a cauldron of noise inside Cardiff City Stadium.
Peter Whittingham had a glorious chance early on to give City a massive advantage, running onto a Michael Chopra pass in to a one on one situation with Chris Weale but striking wide.
It was all City in the early exchanges, and the Cardiff City faithful were right behind their side. Mark Kennedy was seeing plenty of the ball down the left flank, and the Foxes were doing all they could just to stay in this one. Whittingham had another chance to give City the lead in the tie, this time striking a beautiful free-kick from just outside of the area after Chris Burke had been fouled.
On eleven minutes, Chopra had another golden opportunity. Again the Foxes defence went missing, allowing the striker to run through and strike; unfortunately for Chops, his effort went just wide of Weale's far post.
City were on fire in this one, and Jay Bothroyd was the next to find himself strike at goal. Some neat play on the edge of the area between Ledley and Chopra allowed Bothroyd to strike low and hard at Weale, who was caught floundering as it went just wide of his near post.
It was getting almost too difficult to keep count of the number of chances City were having. On eighteen minutes Kevin McNaughton whipped in a beautiful cross from the right hand side; the ball fell to Stephen McPhail, who feigned to shoot before playing Ledley in on the left of the area. Ledley also feigned, playing it inside for Whittingham to strike; unfortunately a last minute deflection took the ball wide.
But it had to come, and on twenty two minutes, Michael Chopra delivered. Ledley played a simple ball through to the right of the area which cut the Leicester defence again, allowing Chopra to shoot across Weale before wheeling away to a delirious Grange End.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 LEICESTER CITY (Chopra, 21 mins)
The Bluebirds were stunned four minutes later though. Some sloppy defending on City's part this time allowed Paul Gallagher to feed through Matty Fryatt, and although David Marshall appeared to have pulled off a wonderful save, the ball bobbled over the line to level things up on the night.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 LEICESTER CITY (Fryatt, 25 mins)
City were still dictating play after their setback, but their passing was less accurate to what it was in the first twenty minutes. Leicester still looked fragile at the back, but their goal had put them right back in it and any Bluebirds who thought the game was won had to re-adjust.
Chris Burke came close with a deflected effort on thirty-five minutes; it had Weale flailing again, but once more it evaded the 'keeper's far post. This was an incredibly open game, impossible at this stage to predict.
Then on thirty-eight minutes Leicester went ahead. The luckiest of goals came about when Steve Howard headed hopefully into the area, before a horrible deflection off Mark Hudson took it over Marshall and into the open net.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-2 LEICESTER CITY (O.G Hudson, 36 mins)
After Leicester's second goal, the game began to settle. Neither side were breaking forward that often, and in reality, both sides began to look that much tenser.
City were wondering just how they could have been behind in this one after taking the lead and dominating the early part of the game. But it was level on aggregate at half time at Cardiff City Stadium and it would set up an incredibly anxious second period.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-2 LEICESTER CITY
The second half again started at frantic speed, and Burke had an early chance to give City the aggregate lead only to shoot straight at a relieved Weale.
Then on forty-nine minutes, Leicester scored again. Welshman Andy King had a free-header after Gallagher had crossed from the right, and it gave the Foxes a 3-2 aggregate advantage. This was falling apart for the Bluebirds.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-3 LEICESTER CITY (King, 49 mins)
Joe Ledley came close with a near post glancing header on fifty-two minutes in what had become a game of end to end chances. The Welshman rose well to beat King after Burke had delivered another superb cross from the left.
Substitution Cardiff City: Kelvin Etuhu on for Chris Burke (60 mins)
Understandably, Leicester opted to defend their aggregate lead and pack their area every time the Bluebirds attacked. The visitors had gone from a side that had to attack, to a side that had the game won if they avoided conceding again. But somehow when they countered they looked stronger than City, Fryatt having an effort cleared off the line by Whittingham on sixty-six minutes.
On sixty-nine minutes, City got themselves back in the tie. Beautifully intricate football in midfield from McPhail, Ledley and Whittingham eventually saw Chopra break through inside the area. The Leicester defence didn't appear to see the striker nip in behind them, and Alex Bruce took the striker out when he was clear through to score. Peter Whittingham stepped up, and smashed home the spot kick to level things up on the night.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-3 LEICESTER CITY (Whittingham, Pen. 69)
Then the most exciting of games took another twist. A rattled Leicester allowed Bothroyd to bustle his way through into the area before unleashing a bullet effort which struck the bar before bouncing over into the Canton Stand.
But the goal had woken the Cardiff City Stadium crowd and the atmosphere became palpable. Once again Leicester's tactics had to change, and they brought on Martyn Waghorn and Jay Spearing to look for that crucial goal.
Substitution Leicester City: Martyn Waghorn on for Lloyd Dyer (71 mins)
Substitution Leicester City: Jay Spearing on for Paul Gallagher (71 mins)
In almost a carbon copy of the second goal, Chopra beat the offside trap and looked to have put City ahead. The striker did brilliantly to trap the ball and strike at goal, his effort beating Weale but cleared off the line by Hobbs.
Then on eighty-four minutes, City hit the bar again. Chopra had worked the edge of the area well before shaping to shoot, only for Hobbs to bring the striker down and concede the free-kick. Whittingham took it, but the ball sprung off the bar to the anguish of most in attendance.
It was Leicester's chance to win it with two minutes remaining when Steve Howard struck a superb effort that Marshall saved fantastically well. Two corners followed but the Foxes wasted two good headed opportunities.
In the dying moments, David Marshall punched a Martyn Waghorn corner onto his own near post. It very nearly brought about the most heartbreaking of finishes, but City survived, as extra time loomed.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2-3 LEICESTER CITY (3-3 on aggregate)
Substitution Cardiff City: Ross McCormack on for Peter Whittingham (91 mins)
With both sides understandably nervous, extra time started quietly before substitute McCormack struck a good effort goalwards that just went past the post. McCormack was playing quite deep though, taking up a similar quarterback-esque role that Whittingham so often plays.
Substitution Leicester City: Yann Kermorgant on for Matty Fryatt (97 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Paul Quinn on for Kevin McNaughton (97 mins)
City had two further half chances before half time of extra time, Chopra weakly shooting at Weale from inside the area before Bothroyd blasted a hopeful free-kick over the cross bar.
With fifteen minutes until a penalty shoot-out, both sides had to way up the worth of pushing forward and risk conceding as the game reached its conclusion. Substitute Kelvin Etuhu struck a marvellous effort on 113 minutes, but again, Weale was on hand to keep his side in it.
Then with four minutes remaining, Waghorn should have won the game. The striker found himself free at the back post after Leicester had created an overlap, but took to long to strike the looping ball and when he did so, fired over. Yann Kermorgant could have won it in the dying seconds with a close range free-kick but Marshall did well to save. Kermorgant could have been the hero - but in the shootout, he would be the Leicester City villain. He and Waghorn saw their spot kicks saved by the hero Marshall, whereas Chopra, McCormack, Ledley and Kennedy scored theirs. In the end, that was the difference; but it means that Cardiff City are now just one game away from the Premier League.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2-3 LEICESTER CITY (3-3 on aggregate)
CARDIFF CITY: Chopra, McCormack, Ledley, Kennedy (ALL SCORED)
LEICESTER CITY: Berner, Howard, Solano (SCORED). Kermorgant, Waghorn (MISSED).
Cardiff win 4-3 on penalties.