Hull manager Steve Bruce lauded opposite number Darren Wassall and his Derby side who ran the Tigers close in their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final.
Derby won the second leg 2-0, to lose 3-2 on aggregate, and earned praise from a relieved Bruce whose side just sneaked through to a meeting with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the final on May 28.
A relieved Bruce said: “You have to give big credit to Derby, they had nothing to lose.
“Derby have responded to all the criticism they have had from all quarters. They were very good on the day. I can only compliment Derby on a magnificent effort.”
For all the praise he lavished on Derby, Bruce was relieved to take Hull into the Championship play-off final and to a third Wembley appearance of his tenure.
He said: “In the first half an hour we couldn’t get near them and we found it really difficult. It was one of them where we have hung on and we got through in the end.”
On Wassall, who was appointed head coach until the end of the season following Paul Clement’s departure in February, Bruce added: “I spoke to him after the game and congratulated him.”
Johnny Russell and an Andy Robertson own goal saw the Rams repeat their victory from November as they were the only visiting team to win at the KC Stadium in the Sky Bet Championship this season.
That they achieved it twice, by the same 2-0 scoreline, and also beat the Tigers 4-0 in the League at the iPro Stadium meant nothing in the end.
The 3-0 defeat in the first leg on Saturday – Abel Hernandez, a Jason Shackell own goal and Robertson were the scorers then – ultimately proved decisive and set Hull up for a Wembley final showdown with Sheffield Wednesday.
Russell gave Derby hope when he forced home the rebound after his first shot was blocked following a back-post header down by Chris Martin just six minutes into the second leg.
Hull were further rocked when Robertson bundled an Andreas Weimann cross over his own line but for all their pressure Derby could not get the vital third goal which would have taken the tie into extra time.
Wassall admitted the tie had been lost in the first leg.
“We haven’t lost tonight, we’ve won the game, we lost the tie on Saturday,” he said.
“It was important for us to come out fighting tonight. We needed to make sure, we knew the whole football world were writing us off.
“I can’t stress how proud I am of that performance tonight. I thought we were absolutely brilliant.
“Tonight you could even argue we deserved to go through on that performance.
“Everybody can hold their heads up high and we’ve finished the season as I want to be represented. It was up to us that we showed everybody what we are about.”