QPR manager Mark Warburton claimed the Wayne Rooney factor helped his team earn a 1-1 draw against Derby at Pride Park.
All the talk before the game was about Rooney’s first involvement on a matchday but Rangers spoiled the party by denying Derby a sixth straight home win.
Rooney is ineligible to play until January but was in the dugout for the first time and saw his new team go ahead in the 23rd minute when Martyn Waghorn curled a free-kick into the top left corner.
But Derby failed to build on that and it was Rangers who were the better side for much of the game with Waghorn conceding a penalty in first-half stoppage time.
The striker needlessly barged over Bright Osayi-Samuel on the right side of the area and Eberechi Eze sent Ben Hamer the wrong way with the spot-kick.
Rangers continued to dominate possession after the break although Derby had chances through Waghorn and Jayden Bogle to regain the lead before Josh Scowen’s goal-bound shot was deflected over.
The visitors deserved at least a point and Warburton admitted the pre-match Rooney buzz helped them bounce back from the midweek thrashing by Nottingham Forest.
Warburton said: “We used that, some of the press comments said we were almost cannon odder today. But the players are professional athletes and they get angered by certain comments.
“I read one statement that basically said Derby couldn’t have a better game today so that was great for us. We know we are a good team, we respect Derby but we have to use that negativity and channel it appropriately.
“We needed a reaction to Wednesday when we had a very bad 10 minutes which was unacceptable but you saw a good reaction today.
“We feel we’ve dropped two points if I’m honest in terms of the quality performance, particularly in the first half and I felt we controlled the game for long periods against a very good Derby team.
“It was a good performance, we go 1-0 down to a loose free-kick but it was a good reaction from the players, I thought we looked solid at the back and good going forward.”
Derby manager Phillip Cocu admitted his team had to accept the opposition would raise their game because of Rooney’s presence.
He said: “I agree, especially from the moment he is on the pitch and a manager can use it for his team.
“Of course, they will lift their game to show how they can play against him so that’s something we have to be ready for.
“For the moment, because he’s not allowed to play he’s involved to see how we prepare and get to know the players he will play with in January.
“And I think he will also be an important link up for us as coaching staff with how we want to play against different systems so if he knows what we want he can use it on the pitch and talk to other players and adjust when it’s needed.”
Cocu was unhappy with the penalty Derby conceded.
He said: “What I’m most upset about is the equaliser, it is the decisive moment in the game. It was totally unnecessary in that position and it’s not the first time it’s happened.”