We're Queens Park Rangers; We're Premier League
30/04/2011 - 1500
QUEENS Park Rangers have returned to the Premier League after a 15-year exile from the top flight
Celebrations were in full flow at Vicarage Road as former Watford wide-man Tommy Smith set-up Adel Taarabt for the opener before doubling the advantage himself.
The goals sparked delirium among the travelling support who poured onto the field after the final whistle, the dream had been realised and Rangers were back among the big boys.
Watford to their credit made life very difficult for QPR at times and supporters were respectful in applauding the champions following the final whistle.
Warnock's men have earned their deserved prize after being budged from the summit for a couple of weeks in the entire campaign.
There will be drinks and celebrations in W12 this evening as Queens Park Rangers once again join the Premier League.
Neil Warnock made two enforced changes for the trip to Watford with ever-present Paddy Kenny being injured in the warm-up and Clint Hill nursing a persistent ankle complaint.
Therefore Radek Cerny started behind the back-four of Bradley Orr, Kaspars Gorkss, Fitz Hall and Matt Connolly with Alejandro Faurlín and Shaun Derry starting in the middle.
Tommy Smith, Adel Taarabt and Wayne Routledge started behind the lone former Hornet front-man Heidar Helguson.
Watford started with Scott Loach behind a back four of Lee Hodson, Adrian Mariappa, Martin Taylor and Lloyd Doyley.
Will Buckley, Don Cowie, John Eustace and Troy Deeney lined up in midfield with Marvin Sordell and Danny Graham the preferred partnership up front.
The challenge was once again clear for the visiting side, pick up a point and they were officially promoted while a victory would see them crowned champions of the npower Championship. D-day once more for Queens Park Rangers after successive draws.
It was positive from the outset as Rangers seemed more relaxed than in previous fixtures and all the indications suggested that Adel Taarabt was in the mood to bring promotion proceedings to a close at Vicarage Road.
Indeed the R's peppered the Watford goal in the early offing with Scott Loach producing a smart save to deny Tommy Smith. His cross drifted across goal and the England prospect reacted well to tip the effort around the post.
Smith once more tantalised down the left and produced a virtual carbon copy of his previous effort for Heidar Helguson. The Icelandic international rose highest to nod goal-bound but Loach once again thwarted the R's
It was looking good in the early exchange for the R's but Troy Deeney reminded the visiting side why Watford were the first team to defeat them this season. The front-man flashed an effort across the target and beyond the right-hand upright.
Lloyd Doyley was next to try his luck for the hosts - the full back who netted his one and only career goal against QPR last season, hammered in an effort after being played in down the left by Martin Taylor. The shot cleared the bar and buried itself into the away end.
Loach has been lauded for his skills between the sticks in recent seasons, but there are notable frailties in his game, after a lack of concentration nearly handed the R's a priceless advantage at Vicarage Road.
Taarabt managed to muster an effort on target but Loach's spill saw the ball roll loose in the six-yard box. Helguson launched himself towards the ball but defender Adrian Mariappa managed to snaffle the ball behind for a corner.
Fitz Hall had to be replaced midway through the opening period with an injury complaint. Dan Shittu was selected above the returning Peter Ramage to take up the cudgels at the heart of defence. Shittu was well-received by the home supporters as he took to the field.
Nice interplay moments later nearly yielded the opening goal with Smith and Taarabt linking up nicely down the left-hand side. The latter squared for the onrushing Alejandro Faurlín but the midfielder placed over the bar from the edge of the area.
Despite several key opportunities Watford had the best chance of the game to date when Deeney ghosted past Matt Connolly. The defender playing at left-back cut a forlorn figure as the forward soared past him before crossing for Danny Graham.
The Championship's top marksman had the goal at his mercy as he peeled away from his marker but managed to place his header wide of the upright. Cerny was rooted to the spot as the home crowd sensed a golden opportunity had come and gone.
It was an eventful opening period Rangers were edging the encounter in terms of opportunities but evidently Watford had the best opportunity to break the deadlock. It promised much for a second half that could decide the fate of the npower Championship
Neil Warnock has since revealed the nature of his half time team talk - a set of players were on the verge of something special, memories they would cherish for a life-time and 45 minutes of football stood between them and the Premier League
Deeney once again fired the first warning shot, with Cerny able to save comfortably and hold the effort. Rangers however would draw the better side from Loach moments later with a truly stunning save keeping the scores level.
Taarabt once again worked his magic down the left before squaring for Faurlín. The Argentinean fired a rasping, dipping effort that seemed destined to nestle in the top right-hand corner. Loach had different ideas as he threw out a hand to thwart QPR with a magnificent save.
Rangers were growing nervous on occasions and this was highlighted with a mad scramble to deny Deeney once more. A half cleared corner fell into the path of the young starlet and only a sea of bodies denied Watford the opening goal.
The game was lurching one way then another and the fixture itself was balanced on a knife-edge. Watford were searching for their goal predominantly on the counter-attack with the pace of Deeney and Sordell being supplemented by the power of Graham.
All fears were quashed, all stress was allayed and the outpouring of sheer relief could be felt from the 2000 that populated the away end, and many others situated in various locations around the ground, as Queens Park Rangers took a priceless lead.
Many thought Smith would be a player to be withdrawn when Ákos Buzsáky took to the field, fortunately for Rangers he remained on the field and worked a crossing position down the right flank with effortless ease.
Adel Taarabt ghosted between his markers and caressed the ball beyond Loach. The away support celebrated deliriously and the smile on Taarabt's was markedly wide, Rangers now had one foot in the Premier League.
The away following was understandably in buoyant mood, and with Watford having little but pride to play for, the signs were good for finishing the job on the day. The counter-attack was now certainly proving fruitful.
The R's attacking line was enjoying a great deal of possession in the right areas and predominantly searching for the corner flag. There was still time for Rangers to notch an all-important second and send the fans into dreamland.
Pealing in front the left flank Tommy Smith came inside his marker before weighting his effort to perfection, whipping the ball beyond Loach and causing unrivalled carnage in the away section.
The outpouring of delirium was palpable, and Rangers fans around the ground were becoming easier to spot and certainly more evident in their celebrations. There was even time for Buzsáky himself to sting the fingers of Loach.
Rangers earned themselves a free-kick a few yards outside the area - the Hungarian playmaker fired a right-footed effort to near-perfection. It was tipped round the post by the over-worked Loach and brought down the curtain on a stunning afternoon's entertainment.
R's fans understandably invaded the pitch following the final whistle and were joined by their players and management to celebrate the culmination of a magical campaign. There was immense pride on Warnock's face as he was mobbed by supporters.
The perfect end to a perfect day as Queens Park Rangers have now firmed up their place in the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League.
Congratulations QPR - from all at Vital QPR
Loach, Hodson, Eustace, Taylor (Bennett 54), Mariappa, Cowie, Deeney, Graham, Buckley (Murray 78), Doyley, Sordell (Whichelow 73).
Cerny, Orr, Derry, Hall (Shittu 23), Taarabt (Ramage 90), Helguson, Faurlin, Gorkss, Routledge (Buzsaky 75), Connolly, Smith.
The team to a man fought hard today and credit must go to the Moroccan for sticking to task despite having little of the ball in key areas.
A special player deserved a special accolade.