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Queens Park Ranger's Charlie Austin (L) challenged by Derby County's Jake Buxton during their Championship play-off final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London May 24. (EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS)
Queens Park Ranger's Charlie Austin (L) challenged by Derby County's Jake Buxton during their Championship play-off final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London May 24. (EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS)

QPR beats Derby to win promotion to Premier League Add to ...

Queens Park Rangers secured an immediate return to the Premier League — and a promotion windfall of at least 80 million pounds ($135 million) — by beating Derby 1-0 in the League Championship playoff final on Saturday thanks to a last-minute goal by Bobby Zamora.

QPR played the final 31 minutes with 10 men following Gary O’Neil’s straight red card for a cynical last-man foul but in a rare foray forward, Harry Redknapp’s team grabbed the winner when Zamora pounced on a poor defensive clearance and sidefooted home a finish.

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It was QPR’s only shot on target in the entire match at Wembley Stadium — and Zamora’s second winning goal in a playoff final, reproducing his exploits for West Ham against Preston in 2005.

The match is the most lucrative in world football due to the money clubs earn from being in the Premier League because of the division’s huge domestic and global broadcasting deals.

QPR, which is promoted along with Leicester and Burnley, had finished fourth in the regular season — a place below Derby — in its first year back in the second tier.

It proved to be another bad day at Wembley for Derby manager Steve McClaren, whose last match as a coach at the national stadium was with England in the team’s 3-2 loss to Croatia in November 2007. That ensured England missed out on qualification for the 2008 European Championships and he was fired the next day.

Derby was looking to get back in the Premier League after a six-year absence and piled on the pressure in the final half-hour after O’Neil departed for clipping the heels of Johnny Russell as the midfielder ran through on goal.

QPR defended stoically, with centre back Richard Dunne in commanding form and former England goalkeeper Rob Green saving a slew of shots, and the match appeared to be heading for extra time.

However, the late twist came when Derby defender Richard Keogh miscued a clearance from Junior Hoilett’s cross and Zamora applied a fine left-footed finish. Keogh was in tears after the final whistle.

QPR is owned by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur who is the chief executive of AirAsia and the team principal of Caterham in Formula One. He has invested heavily in the London team since becoming its majority shareholder in 2011, with QPR posting debts of 65.4 million pounds for the financial year in March.

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