Watford 0-2 QPR

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport at Vicarage Road

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.

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.

QPR celebrate Tommy Smith's late goal
QPR's second, coming from Smith, started the party for the visitors

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.