Derby guarantee themselves top-six finish with victory over Bristol City
Tom Ince played a starring role as Derby cemented their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-off zone with a 3-2 win at Bristol City.
Playing on the left of midfield, Ince scored one goal and made another as Derby edged out a City team still needing a point to guarantee survival in the second tier.
Johnny Russell headed Derby in front after 37 minutes, powering home Jason Shackell's cross from the left from a central position six yards out.
But that only stung City into a response and within a minute Jonathan Kodjia ran onto Marlon Pack's pass before unleashing a fierce shot from inside the box that Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson got his hands to, but could not keep out.
Six minutes later the home side were in front. Former City player Richard Keogh fired an attempted clearance straight at Bobby Reid, who took a stride forward before burying a low right-footed shot past Carson from 25 yards.
Derby hit back seven minutes after the break when Ince crossed from the left corner of the box and Craig Bryson slid in to net from 10 yards.
Five minutes later it was the visitors in front again as Chris Martin's pass put Ince through in a crowded box and he beat Richard O'Donnell with a left-footed finish for what would prove to be the winner.
Up until the goals both sides had worked hard to cancel each other out in an energetic first half.
Kodjia threatened early on, but marred some penetrating runs with the wrong final option.
At the other end Ince tested O'Donnell after 13 minutes with a powerful drive from 25 yards, which rebounded off the City keeper's chest before the ball was cleared.
Derby had a narrow escape after 40 minutes when Adam Matthews crossed from the right and the ball ricocheted off two Derby defenders before clipping the top of the crossbar.
The second half began with Chris Martin firing wide from an angle for the visitors. And after their two goals in quick succession Derby threatened more as Shackell headed against the bar from a Jacob Butterfield corner.
City weathered the storm and tried to hit back, with Kodjia shooting into the side-netting when he might have scored.
But from then on Derby defended their advantage with increasing tenacity and emerged worthy winners, sending over 1,000 travelling fans home happy.
City gave a wholehearted, but mistake-prone display, and MK Dons' draw at Sheffield Wednesday meant they are not quite safe yet.