‘Ready to die for 3 points’: Derby star CRASHES into post, somehow recovers to score TWICE as Rooney’s men avoid the drop (VIDEO)
Dubbed 'D-Day' by the local press, the Rams met their fellow Championship strugglers at Pride Park on Saturday afternoon with a loss for either side demoting them to the third tier of English football.
With Derby scooping just five points from their last 13 matches, this development materializing for the first time since 1986 seemed a real possibility.
Willing to put his body on the line for the cause, though, Waghorn set an example early doors when trying to get on the end of a big chance in the opening quarter of an hour.
Waghorn taking an absolute beating off the post there. pic.twitter.com/9Z90zyyBRE— CeltsAreHere (@HereCelts) May 8, 2021
At the backpost, the attacker hit just wide of the Wednesday goal.
But in throwing himself at the ball, he accidentally smashed into the post at pace and was left on the ground in agony.
With no fans in the stadium, viewers at home or on the internet – where the clip was widely shared – could hear the impact of Waghorn literally hitting the woodwork.
As medics attended him, he was barely moving which increased mounting concerns he'd been knocked out unconscious.
Finally getting back on his feet after four minutes, though, while closer inspection showed Waghorn hit the post with his chest and not his face, the number 9 would go on to have an evening bigger impact on the tie as he soldiered on.
Sam Hutchinson scored for the visitors deep into stoppage time and sent Derby down the tunnel in a gloomy mood at the interval.
In the 49th minute, though, Waghorn responded to make it 1-1 by flicking home a cross from the left flank.
Three minutes later, he set up Patrick Roberts through what was described as "classic centre forward play" with his back to goal and therefore bagged an assist.
52' Waghorn with some classic centre forward play. Strong, back to goal, holds it up and feed Roberts who dispatches it accurately. Derby have turned it around somehow. Waghorn is playing so well out there.— Ryan Conway (@RJConway92) May 8, 2021
The Owls equalized via Callum Peterson on 62 minutes, and when they went 3-2 up thanks to Julian Borner seven minutes later, it seemed like the death knoll had again been sounded for Derby.
Capping off a Man of the Match performance, Waghorn saved the day with a 78th-minute penalty and helped his men avoid the drop.
As a result of the 3-3 draw, Wednesday were relegated alongside fellow South Yorkshiremen Rotherham United and Wycombe, who drew 1-1 with Cardiff and beat Middlesborough 3-0 respectively.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby team avoid relegation to League One with a 78th minute penalty.Never in doubt 😅 pic.twitter.com/OQlx4WmGRq— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 8, 2021
Derby County boss Wayne Rooney with big hugs all around after avoiding relegation! 👏 pic.twitter.com/mcRiWL6DP8— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 8, 2021
Surviving by a single point, it was hugs all round at full time while Waghorn spoke on his performance and the positive impact of his boss in former Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney.
"As someone who has won absolutely everything, he has just tried to keep us calm as a team," Waghorn said.
"He has told us he believes in us from day one. He has instilled that belief to keep going."
Later commenting on the outcome himself, Rooney revealed how he was close with 'Waggy' as a player.
"We played on the PlayStation all the time," Rooney added of his time up front for Derby, before taking over from Phillip Cocu when the Dutchman was sacked earlier in the season with the team bottom of the league.
"[And] when I became manager I had to distance myself [from him] and that hurt.
"I’m so pleased for him today. His first goal...[I'm] so happy," Rooney concluded.
🗣 "The last 20-15 minutes were absolute hell."🗣 "This is what we live for, the highs and lows."Martyn Waghorn speaks to Sky Sports after Derby stay up on the final day.Watch the reaction on Sky Sports Football 📺 pic.twitter.com/LIpyHJkXJX— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 8, 2021
Waghorn admitting that the the "last 20-15 minutes were absolute hell," but that footballers "live for" the "highs and lows", the pair can now celebrate and put a nightmare campaign behind them.