By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Sport at Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff beat Leicester in shoot-out
Cardiff advanced to the Championship play-off final against Blackpool after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win.
Goalkeeper David Marshall was Cardiff's penalty hero saving twice as the Bluebirds beat Leicester 4-3 on spot-kicks after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
Michael Chopra struck first before Matt Fryatt, a Mark Hudson own goal and Andy King put Leicester ahead overall.
Peter Whittingham's penalty levelled it before Leicester's Yann Kermorgant and Martyn Waghorn missed in the shoot-out.
Bruno Berner, Steve Howard and Nolberto Solano had scored in the penalty shoot-out for the Foxes while Michael Chopra, Ross McCormack and Joe Ledley had kept their cool for Cardiff.
But Kermorgant was Leicester's villain as the 28-year-old Frenchman chose the wrong time to try a cheeky chip, which Marshall comfortably saved.
Mark Kennedy fired in from 12 yards for the Bluebirds before Scottish international Marshall kept out Waghorn to leave Cardiff a possible 90 minutes from the Premier League and an estimated £90m jackpot.
The Bluebirds will hope to end their 48-year top-flight exile against Blackpool, relegated from the old Division One in 1971, at Wembley on 22 May.
Cardiff secured promotion from League One in 2003 after beating Ian Holloway's QPR 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium and now must beat Holloway's new club if they are to secure promotion and wipe out their £15m debts.
It was the first time Leicester had lost a Championship play-off semi-final after succeeding in their previous four attempts.
Whittingham was Cardiff's goal hero from the 1-0 first-leg triumph and the in-form winger should have added to his 24 goals this season inside four minutes.
Chopra's beautifully weighted pass took out covering Leicester defender Solano, but the former England under-21 international dragged his shot wide when one-on-one with visiting keeper Chris Weale.
Whittingham's wonder goal on Sunday was the toast of the Welsh capital and he went close with another free-kick, but Weale saw this 20-yard effort all the way.
Cardiff's attacking start paid off when Chopra pounced on Jay Bothroyd's flick from a straightforward long ball and slid the ball under Weale for his 20th goal of the season - but just his third in four months.
However Matty Fryatt's first goal of 2010 three minutes later threw the tie wide open.
His neat one-two with targetman Steve Howard, back in after suspension, ended with the former - making his first start for three months after jaw surgery - firing his 13th goal this season under Cardiff keeper Marshall.
Fryatt's strike against the run of play inspired a spell of Leicester domination that culminated in a second goal.
Howard was allowed a free header and his flick from Alex Bruce's long free-kick inadvertently hit Hudson's head, with the ball wrong-footing his own keeper Marshall and nestling in the left corner of his net.
Generous Cardiff defending had helped Leicester and Dave Jones' half-time Cardiff team-talk clearly fell on deaf ears as slack marking allowed the Foxes a third.
Cardiff rush to congratulate keeper David Marshall after the win
Paul Gallagher's second cross found King's head and he put his side ahead in the tie for the first time with his 11th goal of the season.
It was the first time the Welsh club had conceded three at their new home, which was welcoming its biggest crowd.
And it was nearly four as their team again failed to deal with a routine corner as Leicester skipper Jack Hobbs' header was diverted goalwards by King, only for Whittingham to hook the effort off the line.
World Cup referee Howard Webb handed the hosts a lifeline when he awarded them a penalty in the 69th minute as Alex Bruce bundled over Chopra after the striker dashed on to Mark Kennedy's ball.
And Whittingham, hero at the other end just minutes earlier, kept his nerve to fire in his 25th goal of the season straight down the middle of the goal to level the tie overall.
Kermorgant's costly penalty chip choice
Bothroyd then skipped past three defenders to crack Weale's crossbar, Chopra had an effort cleared off the line by Hobbs and Whittingham struck the bar with a free-kick as Cardiff pressed for a winner.
But Marshall superbly denied Howard from point-blank range at the other end before McCormack's 30-yard shot tested Weale.
Chopra and on-loan Manchester City striker Kelvin Etuhu, on for the injured Whittingham, went close in an understandably tense extra-time before penalties settled it.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones: "One minute you are out then you're back in it, I've nothing but admiration for my players. It is a fantastic achievement for everyone at the football club.
"We played scintillating football. We missed two or three glorious chances. We showed great character.
"We just had to cut out the mistakes, believe and keep the ball moving. It is just nice to get through.
"You see the fans, your hear them, the club gets knocked but we came together.
"Now we get ready for another big one. It's fantastic for everybody here.
"Everybody wants to ply their trade at the top level. The last three years we have been knocking on the door. It's unbelievable."
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson: "It's tough on the players. Our performance epitomises their commitment, desire and application.
"There are a lot of disappointed players in there but we have achieved a lot in our first season in the Championship.
"I'm going to leave them with their own thoughts; it is a difficult thing for the players to deal with. It is a difficult way to go out.
"Once you get to these play-offs you have got to make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting through.
"There is no doubt that over the two hours of football the players have been exceptionally good and the commitment and application has been excellent.
"When you hear them celebrating it is a case of what could have been and that is difficult to get over at this time.
"They were better than us in the penalty shoot-out. May the best team win in the final."
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.