Wayne Rooney has admitted that he is not giving up on the "miracle" of keeping Derby in the Championship this season after seeing off high-fliers Bournemouth 3-2.
The Rams' off-field problems led to the deduction of another nine points earlier this week taking their total punishment to 21, but Rooney’s men moved back on to zero thanks to goals from Tom Lawrence (two) and Jason Knight after Bournemouth had led 2-1 through Jaidon Anthony and Dominic Solanke efforts.
Victory meant the Pride Park outfit are now 15 points short of a position of safety but Rooney is in no mood to throw in the towel.
He said: "We have to be realistic – it’s a small chance but, for as long as there’s an opportunity, we will be giving it a try. We’re not just going to come into training for the sake of it and we will continue to fight on the pitch to get as many points as we can.
"There’s a chance we can perform a miracle, which I feel it would be if we stay up. I have never doubted the players in terms of character, attitude and energy and, when we are on it, we can compete with any team in this league."
On skipper Lawrence's match-winning brace, Rooney added: "The first goal was a great one and, then, there’s always a lot of pressure on penalty kicks, but his energy and work-rate all season has been great. He’s really led by example this season as captain and you want your big players to make an impact on games."
Bournemouth boss Scott Parker felt his team were punished for allowing the contest to become a "basketball match" after they had taken a 2-1 lead.
"We didn’t play well enough to warrant three points," he confessed. "Having said that, at 2-1 up, even though we were not playing as well as we wanted to, we still felt we should have got a result even if it wouldn’t have been the way we would have wanted to get one.
"We were off in all aspects of our game. Defensively, we weren’t great but, after conceding an early goal from a set-play, we got back in front with two lovely goals and some good play.
"After that, though, we were not brave enough on the ball and made it a 50-50 game. That’s not what we’re accustomed to and the game turned into a basketball match.
"We did not control the ball well enough and, after the Derby crowd had gone quiet at 2-1, we gave them a bit of hope. Tom Lawrence then got them back into the game with a bit of brilliance and it became a difficult afternoon for us."