LONDON: Wayne Rooney’s (pix) Derby struck late against Sheffield Wednesday to ensure Championship survival on Saturday, consigning their opponents to League One along with Rotherham and Wycombe.
Martyn Waghorn’s double, including a decisive 78th-minute penalty, and a strike from Patrick Roberts saved the Rams in a 3-3 draw at Pride Park.
Goals from Sam Hutchinson, Callum Paterson and Julian Boerner kept the Owls in contention until the final whistle on the last day of the regular season.
A winner for Wednesday would have reversed the clubs’ fortunes.
“It was a rollercoaster,” former Manchester United and England forward Rooney told Sky Sports. “The 90 minutes today almost sums up our season.
“Thankfully we’ve done what we set out to do. I’m delighted for the players because they’ve given me everything.
“We will get better, I can assure you of that. It’s been a very difficult season – we need to make sure now we get everything sorted off the pitch.”
Rotherham had looked set to survive for much of the afternoon and would have done so had they not conceded an 88th-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at Cardiff.
Marlon Pack’s late strike broke Millers’ hearts after Paul Warne’s men squandered numerous chances to add to Lewis Wing’s superb early opener.
Wycombe went down with a fight, winning 3-0 at Middlesbrough, having required a mathematical miracle to stay up.
Wednesday finished bottom of the table, with a six-point deduction for breaching financial rules ultimately proving pivotal.
Derby, who began a tumultuous season under Phillip Cocu before Rooney took over, finished just a single point above Wycombe to avoid falling into the third tier for the first time since 1992.
In the play-off picture, Brentford will face Bournemouth, with Swansea set to take on Barnsley.
Premier League-bound Norwich lifted the Championship trophy at Barnsley but missed out on setting a new club record of 30 wins in a league season following a 2-2 draw.
Watford were the other team to have secured automatic promotion. – AFP