Simpson: Win was for Fernandes
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes may have recently claimed promotion this season is not vital to the club - but his celebrations following their dramatic play-off win over Wigan on Monday night suggested otherwise.
Rangers, £177million in debt and lumbered with a wage bill bigger than Atletico Madrid's, now stand 90 minutes away from a return to the riches of the Premier League thanks to Charlie Austin's 96th-minute winner.
The Hoops yet again put their chairman through the wringer, trailing to James Perch's early strike until the 72nd minute when Austin sent the tie into extra time from the penalty spot.
And when the final whistle blew, Fernandes punched the air, danced and hugged everyone in the vicinity of the directors' box as the fans who invaded the pitch chanted his name.
The celebrations continued in the dressing room with defender Danny Simpson revealing: "He came through with a big smile on his face. He was buzzing.
"He has put a lot of faith in us, trust in us, and is always supporting us. That win was for him, he has been top class.
"Hopefully we can go one extra step for him and get him back in the Premier League because he is a top man. I have not had much interaction with chairmen over the years but he gets involved with the lads. We want to put a smile on his face again at Wembley."
Standing in Rangers' way at Wembley will be a Derby side rejuvenated under Steve McClaren and who ruthlessly dispatched Brighton 6-2 over two legs.
"It's going to be a tough game," added Simpson. "But if we can show that team spirit, desire and work rate, it's going to be a special day.
"This was the toughest fixture of the two semis, we got though it. The lads put in such hard work over the two games. We proved over those two games that every one of us wants to get back in the Premier League.
"Even when they went 1-0 up, we were on top. Sometimes your head can go down but that lifted us. We got stronger and stronger."
It was a night when some of Rangers' old stagers stepped up to the plate.
Bobby Zamora is one of those big earners from top-flight seasons gone by and only manages the odd cameo appearance these days but the former England striker turned the game when he came on, having a hand in both goals.
Richard Dunne got a head onto everything at the back and Joey Barton was a midfield driving force alongside Niko Krancjar, a surprise choice ahead of Ravel Morrison and who could barely walk at the end of a pulsating 120 minutes.
"I went for experience really, Niko knows the game and has great ability," said manager Harry Redknapp. "He did his hamstring at the end so I hope he's fit for Wembley.
"Bobby was fantastic, in games lately he has done that and he's got great experience. Dunney was excellent, Joey, it was a great night.
"I'm looking forward to Wembley. For the owners and the fans it would be great to do it. The owners are nice people, I'd love them to do it."
Next for Wigan is the prospect of another season in the Championship but they will be in better shape for a promotion tilt next term.
Wing-back Perch said: "Hopefully we can continue next season and go for automatic promotion, not all of this play-off business."
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