QPR 1 Middlesbrough 5
By Ben Kosky MIDDLESBROUGH had never won at Loftus Road before Saturday – and Rangers fans aren t likely to forget the day the Teessiders opened that account. Thrashed 5-0 on their last visit to Shepherd s Bush, Boro gained ample revenge as they tore QPR
By Ben Kosky
MIDDLESBROUGH had never won at Loftus Road before Saturday - and Rangers fans aren't likely to forget the day the Teessiders opened that account.
Thrashed 5-0 on their last visit to Shepherd's Bush, Boro gained ample revenge as they tore QPR apart and took their hosts' place in the top six as well.
Rangers' frailty in defending corners and free-kicks has been there for all to see in recent weeks and even Matthew Connolly, who missed this one with a groin injury, was singled out for criticism in the previous week's 2-2 draw with Coventry.
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This time, central defensive partner Fitz Hall was cast as the fall guy as he gave away a free-kick after half an hour and then failed to pick up Dave Kitson, who stuck out a leg to divert Gary O'Neil's cross into the roof of the net.
Rangers had shown promise in the opening 15 minutes, but Boro looked fresher and sharper for the rest of the contest, with Mark Yeates cracking a 30-yarder against the crossbar before Kitson's opener.
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The decision to station Mikele Leigertwood at right-back again robbed Rangers of his bite in midfield and the visitors took advantage of the space as O'Neil and Leroy Lita both brought saves from Radek Cerny.
But Boro were literally handed an opportunity to double their lead four minutes into the second half as Ben Watson inexplicably rose to paw a corner away from David Wheater.
Lita smashed the spot-kick past Cerny - but Jim Magilton's double change paid dividends within 30 seconds as Rowan Vine sped away and cut the ball back for his fellow substitute, Patrick Agyemang, to tuck past Brad Jones.
But the renewed buzz among the Rangers faithful was extinguished eight minutes later as Leigertwood lost possession and Lita skipped inside to fire his second goal into the far corner.
Cerny denied Julio Arca a fourth goal on the counter-attack and Rangers nearly pulled it back to 3-2 as a curling cross from Gorkss fooled the goalkeeper and Wayne Routledge met the ball, but it drifted back across the six-yard box.
Instead, the Teessiders settled the contest 15 minutes from time as Lita galloped away from Gorkss to hammer a shot against the post - and the rebound fell for O'Neill to slot it first time past the stranded Cerny.
The ground was already half-empty by the time Yeates applied some salt to the Rs' wounds with three minutes left, scything through a ragged defence to thump home the fifth.