Queens Park Rangers have been the butt of jokes across the football world over the last three years. They celebrated a loss to keep themselves up two seasons ago, went down with one of the largest wage bills in the Premier League last season and have more wages on the books this year than Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid. But they're headed back to the Premier League, and in stunning fashion.
Gary O'Neil was sent off for QPR in the second half, leading to a half-hour of pure domination from Derby County, but they couldn't find the breakthrough. And in the 89th minute, the ball fell to Bobby Zamora in the Derby box, and he applied a class finish to send 10-man QPR back up at the expense of Steve McClaren's men.
The first half was extremely tight, and arguably quite dull, as many cup and playoff finals usually are. The biggest event of the half was an injury to QPR midfielder Niko Kranjcar, who was forced off. With him out, QPR lost much of their creativity and ability to keep the ball, and Derby were unsurprisingly in control from there.
Derby got another big boot with O'Neil's red card in the 59th minute for a terrible challenge on Johnny Russell, which was ruled denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity. But the following minutes were the Robert Green show, as the QPR keeper came up huge with massive saves on Chris Martin and Jamie Ward.
There were hints that QPR might have a surprise goal in them during the last five minutes, but it was still absolutely stunning when Rangers finally scored. In the 89th minute, a cross by Junior Hoilett fell to Zamora, who smashed a perfect shot into the top corner.
Derby brought on Patrick Bamford and threw everyone forward in desperation, but couldn't find the goal they needed, and their fans were left heartbroken.
QPR: Green, Hill (Henry 67'), Dunne, Onouha, Simpson, Kranjcar (Traore 33'), Barton, O'Neil (red 59'), Hoilett, Doyle (Zamora 57'), Austin
Goals: Zamora (89')
Derby: Grant, Forsyth, Keogh, Buxton, Wisdom, Thorne, Hendrick, Hughes (Bryson 68'), Ward (Bamford 90'), Martin, Russell (Dawkins 68')