The goal – a close-range 90th-minute shot after Richard Keogh failed to clear Junior Hoilett’s cross – was QPR’s only chance on target of the match.
It was Zamora, then, one of QPR's trio of substitutes, who eventually made the difference, securing a Premier League place for QPR just as he did for West Ham nine years ago.
The first half had been closely contested if hardly packed with goalmouth incident. The one genuine save came from Robert Green - by far the busier keeper all afternoon - palming Jamie Ward’s free-kick away for a corner five minutes before the break.
Even the first half’s moment of controversy was a little half-hearted as Ward claimed he had been impeded by Richard Dunne. Lee Mason was close to the incident, and was adamant that the contact was minimal at the very best.
Derby will come away from Wembley thinking of the what-might-have-beens - and QPR will thank their stout defence and veteran goalpoacher for their victory.
27’ DRAMA! We have our first controversy. Hughes thinks Dunne has brought him down in the box as he attempts to turn him. The referee is very close to the incident, and isn't interested at all. Replays indicate that the contact was minimal.
40’ CHANCE! That's the closest we've come to a goal so far - Ward takes the set piece, and it sizzles across the face of goal, forcing Green into a save.
60’ RED CARD! Was Gary O’Neil the last man there? Yes, he was! Red card for him after clipping the heels of Johnny Russell, who was otherwise clean through.
69’ CHANCE! Lovely run in from substitute Bryson, and a good shot, but Green makes the save at the near post.
75’ CHANCE! Great link-up between Bryson and Dawkins, whose shot is palmed away by Green, and then Ward's follow-up is deflected out off his own man.
90’ GOAL! Bobby Zamora puts QPR in the lead! Is that yet another play-off winner for him? Once more Hoilett's great work down the right pays off - Keogh doesn't clear the cross, and it falls to Zamora, who hammers it home.
Gary O'Neil is the first player to be sent off in a Championship play-off final since Jay Tabb for Reading in 2011.
Bobby Zamora’s 90th-minute goal was QPR’s first shot on target of the afternoon.
Zamora's last three goals for QPR have come in the 90th minute - or later.
QPR return to the top flight for the fifth time after previously being promoted in 1968, 1973, 1983 and 2011.
Well, the penalty shout from Ward was probably the biggest talking point – he certainly did think he’d been obstructed, but it would have been a harsh decision.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Robert Green (QPR): the QPR goalkeeper kept Derby shut out all afternoon.
Derby: Grant 7, Wisdom 7, Keogh 7, Buxton 8, Forsyth 7, Hendrick 7, Thorne 7, Hughes 7, Russell 7, Martin 7, Ward 8. Subs: Bryson 8, Eustace, Sammon, Legzdins, Whitbread, Dawkins 8, Bamford 7.
QPR: Green 9, Simpson 7, Onuoha 8, Dunne 8, Hill 7, Doyle 7, Barton 7, O'Neil 6, Hoilett 8, Austin 7, Kranjcar 6. Subs: Traore 7, Morrison, Yun, Hughes, Henry 7, Zamora 7, Murphy.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Bobby Zamora
- Johnny Russell
- Craig Bryson
- Richard Keogh
- Junior Hoilett