Belfast Telegraph

Charlie Austin sends QPR to Wembley

QPR 2 Wigan 1 (AET) QPR won 2-1 on aggregate

Charlie Austin fired QPR to Wembley as they came from behind to beat Wigan 2-1 in a dramatic Championship play-off semi-final.

The striker took his tally for the season to 20 goals with a second-half equaliser and an extra-time winner to leave Harry Redknapp's side potentially 90 minutes from a return to the Premier League.

Wigan, who were held 0-0 at home in the first leg, had led from the ninth minute when James Perch prodded in a cross from James McClean.

Rangers squandered chance after chance to level, but were thrown a lifeline in the 72nd minute when Junior Hoilett won a penalty which Austin converted.

And six minutes into extra time the former Burnley frontman struck again to book a winner-takes-all showdown with Derby at the end of the month.

Yet Wigan had stunned the hosts by taking an early lead when Perch darted in front of Rangers skipper Clint Hill to get to McClean's centre first and poke the ball home.

Clearly a man for the big occasion, the goal was only Perch's second of the season – the other being the winner against Manchester City in the FA Cup which did send Wigan to Wembley.

QPR levelled when Junior Hoilett attempted a one-two with Bobby Zamora on the edge of the area, only for Gary Caldwell to halt the winger's run with a clumsy challenge allowing Austin to step up and equalise.

In extra-time Zamora lifted the ball into Austin's path and watched his strike partner tucked it into the net past Scott Carson.

Rangers survived a late scare when Rob Kiernan's shot was deflected inches wide in stoppage time.

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