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Rooney survives relegation on day of drama

Wayne Rooney celebrated on Saturday as his Derby County side escaped relegation from the Championship in dramatic fashion.

Rooney’s Derby went into Saturday’s decisive clash against relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday having lost their past six matches, but a 3-3 draw was enough for his side to stay up at the expense of Darren Moore’s men.

Derby were heading for the drop to League One — the third tier of English football — when Sheffield Wednesday took a 3-2 lead at Pride Park, but Martyn Waghorn’s penalty secured a point that ensured Derby’s survival.

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Rooney’s men fell behind when Sam Hutchinson bundled the ball over the line for Wednesday in time added on at the end of the first half. Derby oared back in the second, however, with goals from Waghorn and Patrick Roberts, but Wednesday equalised through Callum Paterson in the 62nd minute before Julian Borner gave them the lead in the 69th.

Waghorn drew Derby level from the penalty spot 10 minutes later, but their chances of survival still looked bleak, with Rotherham leading in Cardiff thanks to Lewis Wing’s eighth- minute strike.

Marlon Pack’s clinical finish in the 88th minute levelled that match, however, and Derby survived a frantic final seven minutes, plus six minutes of added time, to cling on for the draw and stay in the second tier.

Former Manchester United and DC United striker Rooney took over temporarily in November 2020 after the Derby sacked then manager Phillip Cocu. After an impressive start, the 35-year-old officially ended his playing career in January, and penned a two-and-a-half year contract to become Derby’s new manager.

Rooney’s time in charge has been overshadowed by one failed takeover of the club, by Dubai-based Bin Zayed International, and another, led by Spanish agent Erik Alonso, which has been the subject of the EFL’s owners and directors test since early April.

Alonso has dismissed reports that he is planning to fund his bid by borrowing against the stadium, Pride Park, but sources told ESPN that there is scepticism among Derby’s owners that Alonso can complete a deal.

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