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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 27 August, 2014

QPR gain extra-time victory to reach Championship play-offs final

Harry Redknapp’s side are now just one game away from a return to the Premier League.

Charlie Austin of QPR celebrates with Bobby Zamora.
Charlie Austin of QPR celebrates with Bobby Zamora.

Updated at 23.21

QPR STAGED A stirring fightback to reach the Championship play-off final as Charlie Austin’s double clinched a 2-1 win over Wigan in the play-off semi-finals on Monday.

Harry Redknapp’s team, who had ground out a goalless draw in the first leg on Friday, fell behind early in the second leg at Loftus Road when James Perch struck for Wigan.

But Austin, a £4 million ($6.7 million) signing from Burnley in August, kept his nerve to convert a penalty with 17 minutes left and then bagged the winner in extra-time.

The Hoops will face Derby County in the final at Wembley on May 24 as they look to secure an immediate return to the Premier League after last season’s relegation.

The side finishing fourth in the second tier has not won promotion to the Premier League since Charlton in 1997-98, but QPR are still in with a chance of ending that sequence.

For Wigan, also relegated from the top-flight 12 months ago, there was frustration at a season of near-misses which included an FA Cup semi-final defeat against Arsenal on penalties.

Uwe Rosler’s side had stunned Loftus Road when Perch punished slack defending to open the scoring in the ninth minute.

James McClean was granted too much time to whip over a fine cross from the left and QPR captain Clint Hill was slow to react as Perch arrived to poke home from close-range.

QPR gradually recovered their composure and Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar showed great skill as he surged past Jordi Gomez to lash in a powerful strike that Scott Carson pushed over the bar.

The hosts went close again when Austin rose to meet a corner and his header was cleared off the line by McClean, with QPR defender Nedum Onuoha unable to pounce on the rebound.

But Wigan should have taken complete control midway through the second half when McClean burst into the area, only to see Rob Green save his initial effort before the Latics midfielder nudged the rebound onto a post.

It was a big miss and Rosler’s anger was clear as he threw his water bottle to the floor in disgust.

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Play-off Semi Final - Second Leg - Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic - Loftus Road

Source: Scott Heavey

(The QPR fans invade the pitch after the final whistle)

QPR took full advantage of that escape with an equaliser in the 73rd minute.

Wigan defender Gary Caldwell caught Junior Hoilett with a rash lunge just inside the area and Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty which Austin calmly dispatched, sending Carson the wrong way.

Joey Barton and Bobby Zamora came close to winning it for QPR, but with away goals not counting double in the play-offs, the tie went to extra-time.

It was Wigan’s 62nd game of a marathon season and the Lancashire side finally seemed to run out of steam as Redknapp’s team went ahead six minutes into the additional period.

Zamora collected a throw-in before clipping the ball towards Austin, who reacted quicker than Wigan defender Leon Barnett and stabbed a predatory finish past Carson to spark wild celebrations in rain-lashed west London.

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