Robbie Savage put the brakes on QPR's promotion charge as Derby frustrated the leaders ina goalless draw at Loftus Road.
The veteran Welsh midfielder, who is retiring at the end of the season, succeeded where many have failed this term with a man-marking job on Rangers captain and top scorer Adel Taarabt. Savage followed the Moroccan's every move, chipping at his heels and chirping in his ear and with their star turn kept quiet, Rangers could not find a way through.
They are already selling 'We are Premier League' t-shirts in the stalls outside the ground, and while that may be slightly premature, they should prove a sound investment with Neil Warnock's side nine now points clear of Norwich in third.
There is still the small matter of an FA charge hanging over the club regarding the transfer of Alejandro Faurlin, but a points deduction remains an unlikely outcome.
Rangers almost took the lead after just five minutes when Clint Hill flicked on Taarabt's corner and Heidar Helguson stabbed the ball inches wide at the far post.
Wayne Routledge should have put the hosts ahead five minutes later when Alejandro Faurlin's chip left him with just Rams keeper Brad Jones to beat but he poked his shot wide.
Tommy Smith also headed a good chance too high and Jones tipped Taarabt's audacious curler over the top.
Derby are still not mathematically safe from relegation, although last weekend's win over Leeds has given them plenty of breathing space.
Theo Robinson and James Bailey went close for them in the first half, and they could have snatched a shock victory after the break but for Paddy Kenny.
Much has been made of Taarabt's contribution this term but Kenny's has been just as vital. And the keeper ensured he kept his 24th clean sheet of the campaign, a club record, and secured a point for the hosts with a stunning one-handed save to deny Stephen Pearson from 12 yards.
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