Watford 0 - 2 QPR
Queens Park Rangers defeated Watford to clinch the Championship title and end a 15-year absence from the Premier League.
Adel Taarabt, the Championship's player of the year, struck with 14 minutes left, tucking home Tommy Smith's cross with a first-time finish.
And Smith, a former Watford player, put the seal on victory with a low strike in injury-time, sparking scenes of celebration in the away dug-out.
The final whistle saw many of the Rangers players run towards their jubilant fans, who can now contemplate life back in English's football's highest division.
QPR's spell outside the top flight has included administration, a spell in League One, several owners and numerous managers, but they have led this season's Championship since November and have undoubtedly been the best team in the division.
They have conceded only 30 goals in 45 games and lost five times as manager Neil Warnock transformed a team that was 20th in the Championship in March 2010 to promotion in 13 months, in the process sealing the seventh promotion of his managerial career.
However, Rangers' promotion is subject to the outcome of a Football Association hearing over the signing of midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.
“Nothing at Rangers is straightforward and the shadow that hung over Saturday's celebrations was the impending Football Association hearing over alleged irregularities following the signing of Argentine Faurlin”
QPR had been in patchy form going into the contest, while Watford had won only one of their previous seven league fixtures.
But they contested an open and entertaining game in the April sunshine at Vicarage Road, with Heidar Helguson crashing an inviting chance into the side netting inside the opening minute after a teasing cross from the ever-involved Taarabt.
The visiting side made an enterprising start and Helguson saw a header saved by Scott Loach as QPR looked for the early goal that would set them on the way to sealing promotion.
However, Watford ended Rangers' unbeaten start to the campaign with an emphatic 3-1 victory at Loftus Road in December and they wasted no opportunity to try to pressurise a defensive unit that had lost keeper Paddy Kenny to injury during the warm-up.
Full-back Lloyd Doyley caused problems with a surging run into the area before the Hornets player of the season Danny Graham spurned a golden opportunity, heading wide when unmarked at the near post.
Watford defender Adrian Mariappa made a sharp clearance after Loach had spilled a Taarabt free-kick, while Taarabt played a superb cut-back that picked out Faurlin, who had time to place his shot but wastefully drilled his effort over from 14 yards as the opening half ended goalless.
Taarabt and Faurlin combined to create the first decent opening after the restart, with the skipper deliberately striking a low corner to his Argentine team-mate, whose curling effort drew a brilliant one-handed save from Loach.
But it was Watford who appeared to have taken control in the second half, while Rangers struggled to retain possession.
A deft flick from Will Buckley teed up Troy Deeney but his effort was blocked by Faurlin, while a backheel from Marvin Sordell almost played in Deeney but QPR managed to scramble the ball clear.
The game changed decisively when Taarabt sprung into life to convert Smith's cross from the left with a precise finish and the Moroccan then went very close to a second goal with a curling strike that drifted the wrong side of Loach's goal.
Helguson missed with a good chance to extend the lead but Smith was not so wasteful, striking home from 18 yards to start the promotion party for Rangers and their supporters.
- 01 Loach
- 02 Hodson
- 05 Taylor (Bennett - 54' )
- 06 Mariappa
- 12 Doyley
- 04 Eustace
- 07 Cowie Booked
- 11 Buckley (Murray - 78' )
- 09 Deeney
- 10 Graham
- 20 Sordell (Whichelow - 73' )
- 13 Gilmartin
- 17 Bennett
- 23 Mingoia
- 24 Whichelow
- 26 Murray
- 32 Drinkwater
- 34 Assombalonga
- 24 Cerny
- 02 Orr
- 05 Hall (Shittu - 23' )
- 13 Gorkss
- 16 Connolly
- 04 Derry
- 07 Taarabt (Ramage - 90' )
- 11 Faurlin
- 15 Routledge (Buzsaky - 75' )
- 09 Helguson
- 21 Smith
- 22 Ramage
- 41 Shittu
- 10 Buzsaky
- 23 Moen
- 25 Ephraim
- 19 Agyemang
- 20 Hulse
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee ends the match.90:00 +4:38 Substitution
Substitution (QPR) makes a substitution, with Peter Ramage coming on for Adel Taarabt.90:00 +4:21
Lloyd Doyley has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.90:00 +2:13 Goal scored
Goal! - Tommy Smith - Watford 0 - 2 QPR Tommy Smith finds the net with a goal from just outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Watford 0-2 QPR.90:00 +0:51
Effort from inside the area by Heidar Helguson misses to the left of the goal.89:56
The ball is sent over by John Eustace, save by Radek Cerny.89:17
A cross is delivered by Matthew Whichelow, clearance by Bradley Orr.88:21
A cross is delivered by Lee Hodson, Danny Shittu makes a clearance.87:27 Booking
Booking Don Cowie goes into the referee's book for dissent.87:09
Free kick awarded for a foul by Adel Taarabt on John Eustace. Don Cowie takes the direct free kick.86:38
Adel Taarabt decides to take a short corner.85:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Heidar Helguson by John Eustace. Shot on goal comes in from Akos Buzsaky from the free kick, Scott Loach makes a save.85:23
Dale Bennett concedes a free kick for a foul on Adel Taarabt. Free kick taken by Matthew Connolly.85:01
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Don Cowie.84:43
The ball is crossed by Sean Murray, Akos Buzsaky manages to make a clearance.84:17
Unfair challenge on John Eustace by Heidar Helguson results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Scott Loach.82:21
Adel Taarabt has an effort at goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.81:31
The ball is swung over by Sean Murray.77:42
The ball is crossed by Tommy Smith.77:08 Substitution
Substitution Sean Murray is brought on as a substitute for Will Buckley.
Assist on the goal came from Tommy Smith.76:05 Goal scored
Goal! - Adel Taarabt - Watford 0 - 1 QPR Adel Taarabt grabs a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Watford 0-1 QPR.75:55
Centre by Tommy Smith,74:16 Substitution
Substitution Akos Buzsaky on for Wayne Routledge.72:18
Scott Loach takes the free kick.72:18 Substitution
Substitution Matthew Whichelow is brought on as a substitute for Marvin Sordell.72:18
The official flags Wayne Routledge offside.69:47
Foul by Troy Deeney on Kaspars Gorkss, free kick awarded. Radek Cerny restarts play with the free kick.68:01
Will Buckley produces a cross.63:12
Marvin Sordell is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Radek Cerny takes the indirect free kick.61:42
Corner taken by Don Cowie.61:35
A cross is delivered by Marvin Sordell, blocked by Kaspars Gorkss.60:02
Shaun Derry produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.57:50
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Shittu by Will Buckley. Radek Cerny restarts play with the free kick.57:30
Bradley Orr crosses the ball, save by Scott Loach.57:01
Don Cowie takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Troy Deeney takes a shot. Matthew Connolly manages to make a clearance.56:17
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adrian Mariappa by Adel Taarabt. Scott Loach takes the free kick.55:36
Don Cowie takes a outswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Danny Shittu.55:18
A cross is delivered by Danny Graham, Kaspars Gorkss gets a block in.53:46 Substitution
Substitution Dale Bennett on for Martin Taylor.51:22
Danny Graham is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Radek Cerny takes the free kick.50:24
Wayne Routledge produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.50:03
Corner taken right-footed by Adel Taarabt to the near post, Don Cowie makes a clearance.49:24
Adel Taarabt takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Alejandro Faurlin takes a shot. Save by Scott Loach.48:35
The referee blows for offside against Danny Graham. Free kick taken by Danny Shittu.47:29
Will Buckley crosses the ball, clearance by Bradley Orr.47:11
Short corner taken by Don Cowie.47:00
Troy Deeney sends in a cross, Shaun Derry makes a clearance.46:37
Foul by Matthew Connolly on John Eustace, free kick awarded. Scott Loach takes the free kick.46:09
Troy Deeney takes a shot. Save by Radek Cerny.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +2:17 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.45:00 +1:44
Lloyd Doyley produces a cross.43:11
Troy Deeney delivers the ball, save by Radek Cerny.42:24
Outswinging corner taken by Don Cowie from the right by-line, Martin Taylor takes a shot. Save made by Radek Cerny.41:27
The assistant referee flags for offside against Heidar Helguson. Scott Loach takes the indirect free kick.38:31
Will Buckley has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses left.37:03
Free kick awarded for a foul by Tommy Smith on John Eustace. Don Cowie takes the direct free kick.36:38
The offside flag is raised against Bradley Orr. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Loach.35:01
The assistant referee flags for offside against Marvin Sordell. Radek Cerny takes the free kick.32:48
Corner taken right-footed by Adel Taarabt.31:49
John Eustace takes a shot. Save by Radek Cerny.30:27
Lee Hodson produces a cross, Radek Cerny makes a save.29:38
Free kick awarded for a foul by Shaun Derry on Will Buckley. Don Cowie restarts play with the free kick.26:10
Troy Deeney delivers the ball, Header from close range by Danny Graham misses to the right of the goal.24:18
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Will Buckley by Alejandro Faurlin. Scott Loach takes the free kick.24:07
Tommy Smith produces a cross, clearance made by Lloyd Doyley.22:30 Substitution
Substitution Danny Shittu comes on in place of Fitz Hall.20:11
Shot from inside the area by Alejandro Faurlin clears the bar.19:18
Adel Taarabt takes the inswinging corner, save by Scott Loach.18:06
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Heidar Helguson by Don Cowie. Shot on goal comes in from Adel Taarabt from the free kick, save by Scott Loach.15:20
John Eustace gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Heidar Helguson. Bradley Orr crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, clearance by Martin Taylor.13:04
Lee Hodson crosses the ball, Fitz Hall makes a clearance.12:02
Centre by Lloyd Doyley.11:15
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Don Cowie.10:54
Heidar Helguson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adrian Mariappa. Free kick taken by Adrian Mariappa.10:08
Will Buckley challenges Kaspars Gorkss unfairly and gives away a free kick. Radek Cerny takes the direct free kick.8:44
Adel Taarabt produces a cross.7:43
Effort from outside the penalty area by Troy Deeney goes wide left of the target.7:07
The assistant referee signals for offside against Adel Taarabt. Scott Loach takes the indirect free kick.4:07
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Adel Taarabt from the right by-line, Header from close in by Heidar Helguson misses to the left of the target.3:47
Tommy Smith crosses the ball, Heidar Helguson takes a shot. Save made by Scott Loach.2:26
The offside flag is raised against Danny Graham. Indirect free kick taken by Radek Cerny.1:03
Adrian Mariappa challenges Adel Taarabt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Adel Taarabt from right channel, Scott Loach makes a save.0:17
The ball is swung over by Adel Taarabt.0:00
The match has kicked off.
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