Win returns Queens Park Rangers to Premier League

London club beat Derby 1-0 in the English Championship final to join Burnley and Leicester City in next season's top flight.
Bobby Zamora scores the winner for Queens Park Rangers at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Carl Court / AFP
Bobby Zamora scores the winner for Queens Park Rangers at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Carl Court / AFP

LONDON // Harry Redknapp, the Queens Park Rangers manager, said his side were “hanging on for their lives” before Bobby Zamora scored the goal in injury time that took them back to the Premier League.

Zamora’s strike gave the London club a 1-0 win over Derby County at Wembley Stadium as QPR returned to the top flight at the first time of asking.

It came at the end of a tough second half following the red card for QPR midfielder Gary O’Neil in the 60th minute.

“It was a fantastic finish,” Redknapp said of Zamora’s strike, “We were maybe trying to take the game to penalties with a draw and were hanging on for our lives.

“It was a fantastic goal to win the game and I couldn’t be more pleased.

“I would be a liar if I said I thought I would see us scoring. They had 11 men, were probing us and we were hanging on.

“That was a one off where you stand on the touchline, hanging on for grim death and get a goal like that.”

QPR’s triumph made them the first team to win promotion after finishing fourth in the second tier for 16 years.

But the historical significance of the victory will pale in comparison to the relief felt by QPR’s Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes, who has funded a £70 million (Dh432m) wage bill reportedly higher than Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, while also coping with annual losses of about £65m.

In that context, promotion to the Premier League, where QPR will land a minimum windfall of £80m, was essential and Redknapp’s men have delivered, thanks to Zamora.

For Derby manager Steve McClaren, Wembley again proved the most painful of venues.

“I’ve lost some games in my career but that is the cruellest,” McClaren said. “We didn’t deserve that. You could only see one winner.”

It was McClaren’s first time in the Wembley dugout since November 2007 when his underwhelming spell as England manager came to a farcical end with the coach lampooned as the “Wally with the brolly” after he huddled under an umbrella during a 3-2 defeat against Croatia that shattered his country’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008.

“I’ve told the players we obviously are not ready yet, that it’s not our time yet and we still have a lot of learning to do, but I’m so proud of them,” he said.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: May 24, 2014 04:00 AM

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