Derby moved to within a point of third-placed Queens Park Rangers as they earned a battling Championship victory against their promotion rivals.

The Rams took the lead midway through the first half when John Eustace's header looped in after Rob Green had miscued a punch clear from a corner.

QPR almost equalised before half-time but Lee Grant saved well from Aaron Hughes's header.

And despite a series of late chances for the visitors, Derby hung on.

The hosts' form at the iPro Stadium has been the cornerstone of their rise up the table under manager Steve McClaren, who began the season as part of Harry Redknapp's coaching team at QPR.

Six wins in their previous seven home games meant they entered this important fixture full of confidence, and that showed as they started well in what turned out to be a feisty encounter.

Destructive Derby

The Rams have scored 58 goals in the Championship so far this season, more than any other team in the division

QPR knew a point or more would take them back into the automatic promotion places but they suffered a setback when Eustace pounced to score his first goal since February 2012.

Green's weak punch found its way to the midfielder, who was lurking around the penalty spot, and his well-placed header evaded the QPR defenders guarding the goal line.

England international Green's match almost went from bad to worse when he miscontrolled a simple back pass, but he recovered in time to prevent it dribbling over the line.

QPR rarely posed a threat in the opening period but nearly went in level at the break, only for on-loan defender Hughes to see his back-post header clawed to safety as Grant flung himself to his right.

The visitors were far more dangerous after the interval and it took some desperate Derby defending to stop them forcing an equaliser.

Modibo Maiga was poised to head in from six yards after fine work on the left wing by Joey Barton, but a stretching Craig Bryson managed to flick the ball away from the on-loan West Ham striker.

From the resulting corner Niko Kranjcar's near-post header was goalbound but Eustace threw his head in the way to divert the ball over.

And after substitute Junior Hoilett lashed a left-footed volley into the side netting, Derby were able to celebrate a victory which boosts their hopes of reaching the Premier League for the first time since 2008.

Derby manager Steve McClaren:

"I knew it would be a test of how far we've come. The team has improved so much. It was about time we had a big win and the clean sheet got us there and that is the most satisfying thing. We should have scored more but the key is to get the balance right between defence and attack.

Post-match: Derby boss McClaren

"We hadn't beaten a top-six side before this and we've got to show more consistency when we come up against our rivals. We're still thinking about the play-offs and being ahead of the team in seventh position. That's our target at the moment as the teams above us have all the experience."

QPR boss Harry Redknapp:

"We didn't create nearly enough chances, that was the problem. We didn't press them in the first half and we seemed more worried about them.

"We were better in the second half but we didn't created enough."

Talking about Manchester United youngster Will Keane, who is on loan at Loftus Road but has yet to feature, Redknapp added: "I'm looking forward to seeing young Will now, he's a good player and he will get a chance.

"It's an area we might be a bit short in but I still feel we have a big chance [of promotion]."

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Derby County

  • 01 Grant Booked
  • 33 Wisdom
  • 03 Forsyth Booked
  • 14 Eustace
  • 06 Keogh
  • 25 Buxton
  • 04 Bryson
  • 19 Hughes (Hendrick - 68' )
  • 09 Martin
  • 35 Bamford (Sammon - 81' )
  • 10 Ward (Russell - 42' )

Substitutes

  • 08 Hendrick
  • 11 Russell
  • 18 Sammon
  • 20 Bennett
  • 26 Legzdins
  • 27 Whitbread
  • 34 Thorne

Queens Park Rangers

  • 01 Green
  • 18 Hughes
  • 39 Assou-Ekotto Booked
  • 17 Barton Booked
  • 05 Dunne Booked
  • 06 Hill
  • 36 O'Neil (Hoilett - 45' )
  • 10 Carroll (Jenas - 79' )
  • 08 Johnson (Maiga - 45' )
  • 14 Doyle
  • 19 Kranjcar Booked

Substitutes

  • 03 Traore
  • 15 Onuoha
  • 16 Jenas
  • 20 Henry
  • 23 Hoilett
  • 26 Murphy
  • 40 Maiga
Ref: Michael Naylor
Att: 23,495

Match Stats

Shots

9 10

On target

2 3

Corners

10 6

Fouls

17 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Derby County 1, Queens Park Rangers 0.

90:00 +5:05 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Derby County 1, Queens Park Rangers 0.

90:00 +4:37

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Richard Dunne.

90:00 +3:01

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by Craig Forsyth.

90:00 +1:03

Attempt blocked. Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

90:00 +0:37

Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:37

Foul by Johnny Russell (Derby County).

87:59

Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87:59

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

87:31 Booking

Booking Lee Grant (Derby County) is shown the yellow card.

83:21

Offside, Queens Park Rangers. Benoit Assou-Ekotto tries a through ball, but Modibo Maiga is caught offside.

83:17

Attempt blocked. Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin Doyle.

81:54

Attempt missed. Junior Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

81:27

Aaron Hughes (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:27

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

80:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. Conor Sammon replaces Patrick Bamford.

79:49

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:49

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Derby County).

78:21 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Queens Park Rangers. Jermaine Jenas replaces Tom Carroll.

77:24

Foul by Modibo Maiga (Queens Park Rangers).

77:24

John Eustace (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:00

Attempt missed. Jake Buxton (Derby County) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Craig Bryson with a cross following a set piece situation.

76:00 Booking

Booking Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

75:55

Foul by Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers).

75:55

Craig Forsyth (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

74:48

Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

74:48

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Derby County).

73:34

Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

73:34

Foul by Jeff Hendrick (Derby County).

72:53

Attempt missed. Chris Martin (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Craig Bryson.

72:27

Foul by Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers).

72:27

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

70:13

Clint Hill (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:13

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

69:03

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by John Eustace.

69:01

Attempt blocked. Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Benoit Assou-Ekotto with a cross.

68:46

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by Craig Forsyth.

68:19

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by Chris Martin.

67:59

Attempt blocked. Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

67:44 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. Jeff Hendrick replaces Will Hughes.

66:52

Kevin Doyle (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:52

Foul by Jake Buxton (Derby County).

64:31 Booking

Booking Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

64:28

Foul by Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers).

64:28

Johnny Russell (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

62:53

Attempt saved. Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Aaron Hughes.

60:45

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Aaron Hughes.

59:20 Booking

Booking Craig Forsyth (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

59:13

Junior Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

59:13

Foul by Craig Forsyth (Derby County).

58:30

Modibo Maiga (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:30

Foul by John Eustace (Derby County).

56:52

Junior Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:52

Foul by John Eustace (Derby County).

52:45

Foul by Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers).

52:45

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

50:50

Attempt missed. Jake Buxton (Derby County) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Will Hughes with a cross following a set piece situation.

50:15 Booking

Booking Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

50:05

Foul by Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers).

50:05

Craig Forsyth (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

49:57

Attempt blocked. Johnny Russell (Derby County) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is blocked.

49:34

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Aaron Hughes.

48:45

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Richard Dunne.

48:42

Attempt blocked. Craig Bryson (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Martin.

45:26

Foul by Clint Hill (Queens Park Rangers).

45:26

Chris Martin (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:00

Second Half begins Derby County 1, Queens Park Rangers 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Queens Park Rangers. Modibo Maiga replaces Andrew Johnson.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Queens Park Rangers. Junior Hoilett replaces Gary O'Neil.

45:00 +2:00 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Derby County 1, Queens Park Rangers 0.

45:00 +0:01

Foul by Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers).

45:00 +0:01

Will Hughes (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

43:26

Attempt saved. Gary O'Neil (Queens Park Rangers) header from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Hughes.

42:15

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Derby County).

42:15

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

41:29

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Derby County).

41:29

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

41:11 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Derby County. Johnny Russell replaces Jamie Ward because of an injury.

41:08

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

40:25

Delay in match Jamie Ward (Derby County) because of an injury.

35:06

Patrick Bamford (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

35:06

Foul by Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers).

32:36

Foul by Will Hughes (Derby County).

32:36

Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

30:49

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by Jake Buxton.

30:46

Attempt blocked. Andrew Johnson (Queens Park Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Niko Kranjcar.

28:28

Richard Keogh (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

28:28

Foul by Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers).

25:09

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Niko Kranjcar.

23:29

Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).

23:29

Aaron Hughes (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

22:45 Booking

Booking Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

22:36

Patrick Bamford (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

22:36

Foul by Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers).

19:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Derby County 1, Queens Park Rangers 0. John Eustace (Derby County) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner following a corner.

19:04

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Clint Hill.

18:01

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Richard Dunne.

16:48

Foul by Richard Keogh (Derby County).

16:48

Andrew Johnson (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:37

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Robert Green.

12:31

Attempt missed. Jamie Ward (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.

12:03

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Aaron Hughes.

10:37

Attempt missed. Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kevin Doyle.

7:20

Attempt saved. Andrew Johnson (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tom Carroll.

6:54

Patrick Bamford (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

6:54

Foul by Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers).

6:32

Attempt saved. Will Hughes (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

5:54

John Eustace (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

5:54

Foul by Kevin Doyle (Queens Park Rangers).

3:58

Foul by Jamie Ward (Derby County).

3:58

Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

1:50

Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by Jamie Ward.

0:59

Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Aaron Hughes.

0:56

Attempt blocked. Patrick Bamford (Derby County) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by John Eustace with a through ball.

0:20

John Eustace (Derby County) wins a free kick on the left wing.

0:20

Foul by Andrew Johnson (Queens Park Rangers).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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