Cameron Jerome opened the floodgates in the final 20 minutes against Cardiff City as the team showed “great character” to hammer in three goals.

Derby County had been threatening on the attack all night long but had to wait until the 69th minute for Jerome to end his 12-game run without a goal and open the scoring.

It was a valiant effort as Rams kept chipping away after going a goal down until the Bluebirds finally crumbled.Jerome capitalised on a flick-on from Richard Keogh to elevate the team then got his second in the final minute.

His brace was sandwiched by Matej Vydra driving in his 20th goal of the season after Andre Wisdom robbed Yanic Wildschut of the ball.

Jerome told RamsTV: “The team showed great character, great desire. We were up against it going a goal down 1-0 at home, we have found ourselves in that position a lot as late but we showed great belief and I thought we were really brave.

“We got the goal and that seemed to galvanise us as well as the energy we got from the crowd. We really sucked that in and went and got two more goals and a much needed three points.

“No disrespect to them but I think we were all over them in the second half. They looked a bit edgy when we got the goal and the game was always ours for the taking we just needed that extra bit of belief and quality.”

Coming against his former club, Jerome, playing to his strengths, was thrust into a physical battle. The rest of the Rams followed suit, winning corner after corner, capitalising on Cardiff’s mistakes and were smothering in the penalty area.

He added: “I always do [enjoy the physical battle]. They are top centre-half’s and they are up there for a reason, I don’t think they have conceded many goals as a team and they are a very organised, hard-working unit.

“Man-to-man, all over the pitch I thought we were brilliant, I thought we stood up strong to the test in terms of set pieces and the threat they possess from that.

“I thought we defended our box brilliantly, it was just one little lapse of concentration in the first half that gave them their goal but other than that I thought we were relatively comfortable.”

Both teams were fighting for valuable points to aid their promotion aspirations. The three points for the Rams were crucial and lifted them back in to the top-six after three consecutive defeats saw them momentarily drop out.

Derby leapfrogged Millwall in the table, who are now two points behind, while Middlesbrough are one point ahead.

The win keeps the Rams' play-off hopes firmly in their own hands with games against Aston Villa and Barnsley remaining.

Looking forward to the final two, Jerome added: “Both are difficult games in different respects.

“Both are fighting for something so it’s going to keep it competitive and it gives us the momentum and belief that it’s in our hands we aren’t dependent on other results. If we are good enough we will get there.”