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Top flight football will be back at Loftus Road next season after QPR stole a dramatic victory over Derby in the Championship play-off.

The East Midlands side had dominated the game and it looked all over when QPR’s midfielder Gary O’Neil was sent off for a professional foul. Derby pressed hard for the winner and with the 90 minutes up a rare break saw a cross fall to Bobby Zamora. His cool finish was QPR’s first shot on target.

Bobby Zamora - 'That win was for my family'

Bobby Zamora was elated after the game saying, “That win was for my family. It's been a tough year with injuries and so forth. I'm pleased to have been able to get through that and I've topped it off with the winning goal in the play-off final.”

It was the second time Bobby had scored the winning goal in a Championship playoff. His strike against Preston in 2005 won promotion for West Ham.

The early exchanges in the game were fairly even with Charlie Austin going close and Derby having a credible penalty appeal turned down after Richard Dunne brought down Will Hughes. Derby slowly started to dominate possession but chances remained few and far between. In the second half Austin had another chance to give QPR the lead but dragged his shot wide.

When Gary O’Neil was dismissed at the hour mark, Rob Green was soon called into action on more than one occasion. An amazing save denied Simon Dawkins at point blank range but a Derby winner looked inevitable. With extra time approaching it seemed impossible that the tired 10 players left on the field for QPR would sustain their resistance.

Saves from Rob Green were vital for win

Manager Harry Redknapp told “It was an amazing finish to the game. We went down to ten men and Derby created chances, and we were hanging in there for our lives. Our centre-halves headed some great balls out of the box and Rob Green was magnificent.

QPR’s right back Danny Simpson, “It's a great way to do it - smash and grab” and other players acknowledged their good fortune with Joey Barton sympathising afterwards with Derby and Harry saying that their manager Steve Maclaren was ‘a great coach and a great guy’ who would win promotion next season. Maclaren had begun the season on the coaching staff at Loftus Road.

The close season will be an interesting one for QPR as their squad remains packed with Premiership experience but some players such as Clint Hill and Bobby Zamora out of contract.

May 25, 2014