Team: Ingram, Onuoha, Hall, Hill, Kpekawa, Henry, Faurlin, Petrasso (El Khayati), Hoilett (Washington), Phillips, Polter (Gladwin)
Subs Not Used: Lumley, Perch, Prohouly, Grego-Cox
Attendance: 19,362 (including 236 R’s fans)
Sam Vokes sealed Burnley’s return to the Premier League at the first attempt with a brilliant headed winner, kicking off a promotion party at Turf Moor.
Sean Dyche’s side came into the match knowing a victory would guarantee them a top-two finish in the Championship and the Wales international delivered the goal for a 1-0 win in the 61st minute, rising highest to convert David Jones’s free kick.
Few could argue the Clarets deserve to take their place again at the top table and the record-breaking riches that will follow, having stretched their unbeaten run to 22 matches dating back to Boxing Day.
They endured a mild bout of stage fright in the first-half but controlled the second, proving they are the division’s most efficient team, loaded with grit, determination and pedigree goal scorers.
As the final whistle was blown, it triggered a pitch invasion and wild scenes as Burnley celebrated their return to English football’s top flight.
Injury had robbed Vokes of the chance to enjoy the occasion the last time Burnley went up, in 2014, but he was in the thick of it this time.
Speaking to Sky Sports he said: “I missed out last time and was gutted but I get another chance now. It’s magic round here. We tried to put the tension to one side. You could feel it but we did it.”
Dyche added: “The result counted today. We know we are miles better than the performance, but the resilience and work ethic was on show again today.”
“Ian Holloway once said we had a strong jaw. He meant it as a compliment. We don’t think we are the real deal, not at all, but we’re a real group of people. Two years ago we went under the radar. This year we have gone 22 games unbeaten and got promotion. That is unbelievable.”
Vokes saw a second goal chalked off for a foul with 10 minutes to go, moments after Matt Ingram’s instinctive save denied the deserving Scott Arfield. The margin may have been slim but the second-half display was powerful, as Dyche’s men refused to let their fate linger another match.
There had been no shortage of endeavour in the first-half – Joey Barton probing and pressing without luck, George Boyd always available to take a pass and Arfield harrying the visitors tirelessly in the channels.
But there was a disconnect between the midfield and forwards, Vokes and Andre Gray. Gray has enjoyed a fine season, leading the division’s scoring charts with 24, but after a single goal in his past five outings, he seemed short of conviction.
His first decent chance, after good work by Barton and Vokes, ended with an air shot and a cry of frustration. Vokes was given a sight of goal in the 22nd minute after Cole Kpekawa’s soft clearance but, though the defender appeared to deflect the shot with his hand, the referee, Jonathan Moss, let play continue.
QPR gradually picked up on a growing frustration and it needed an alert Tom Heaton to keep the scores level. He was called on to save three shots from distance, getting down and across well to parry Matt Phillips’s shot and comfortably catching a later snatched effort from the winger.
Just after the half-hour, Junior Hoilett almost caught the keeper unsighted in a packed box, but Heaton gathered at the second attempt.
He continued to be busier than he would have liked, bravely diving at Michael Petrasso’s boots to smother a chance created by Kpekawa’s long ball over the top. But Burnley were back on the front foot after the interval, Arfield going close in the 49th minute.
After a hanging free kick dropped awkwardly in the area, a deflected clearance fell to Arfield, who hit a careful side-foot volley that drifted over Ingram and narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The hosts came again, Gray sneaking past Grant Hall on the left but opting to shoot when Vokes was better placed. The next time the Welshman found himself in a scoring position it was a different story.
He beat Nedum Onuoha to meet the free kick and headed home with both placement and power for his 14th goal of the campaign. The celebrations were gleeful on the field and in the stands, with half an hour separating the Clarets from their Premier League dream.
Progress was not scare-free, with Alejandro Faurlin rattling the post in the 69th minute with a 25-yard rocket. But Burnley ended dominant. Arfield certain he had scored after Vokes’s back-heel only to see Ingram throw out a foot and divert the ball wide.
Vokes headed home for a second time on 80 minutes but Moss’s whistle was close behind. When he blew again to end the game, supporters poured on to a pitch that will again host top-flight football next season.