It only took Queens Park Rangers a year to return to the Premier League.
On Saturday, the London side were promoted with a 1-0 victory over Derby County after Bobby Zamora scored a 90th minute goal, despite QPR being reduced to 10 men in the 60th minute.
From Bleacher Report UK:
Winning the Championship play-off isn't just about pride—QPR stands to make approximately £80m with the win, according to Bill Wilson of the BBC.
QPR needed a lot more than pride to win this one, however. Derby County were generally the more assertive team for much of the match, and it appeared they were in the driver's seat to advance to the Premier League after Gary O'Neil was sent off in the second half for a cynical foul on Johnny Russell, who looked free on goal and likely to shoot on his next step.
Even manager Harry Redknapp admitted his team was hanging on for dear life, via The Telegraph:
We were trying to hang in there and maybe take the game to penalties, but we've ended up getting a fantastic goal.
I'd be lying if I said I could see us scoring. We were hanging on, Rob Green was making saves and then we've got a worldy of a goal.
We were hanging on for grim death and then we get a goal out of nowhere. That's why this is the best game in the world."
Derby Country pressed on, but 'keeper Rob Green stood on his head to keep the game level, saving several shots.
That set the scene for Zamora, a second-half substitute, to play the role of hero.
In the 90th minute, Junior Hoilett did some strong work on the right flank and lifted a rather weak cross into the box, but Richard Keogh's attempted clearance was just as poor and fell directly to Zamora. The striker promptly ripped a left-footed shot into the corner, sealing an improbable victory for QPR.
It wasn't the first time Zamora has been the hero on this stage, as Paul Carr of ESPN noted:
Bobby Zamora may have put QPR into the Premier League. He did the same for West Ham in 2005: https://t.co/9Ou9XwUpn9— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 24, 2014
WhoScored.com broke down the match stats:
While Zamora and Green may have appeared to be the heroes, it was Richard Dunne who earned Man of the Match distinction, per Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report:
Wembley's MotM: Richard Dunne. Considering the outcome, that's probably right. He was immense.— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) May 24, 2014
QPR will likely be one of the busier teams in the summer transfer window, as they attempt to remain in the Premier League for longer than a season. With Harry Redknapp in tow and even more coin in the coffers, QPR should be a strong addition to the EPL.
And, if past history is any indication, they won't be going back to the Championship after just one season, per Carr:
QPR could be the 4th straight playoff winner to finish in PL top 11 the next season: pic.twitter.com/3ZX0QNTdxo— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 24, 2014
For Derby County the loss is devastating, but their strong showing this season should give them hope for promotion next year. The disappointment will linger for some time, but building upon this campaign should put them in contention to advance next year.