QPR ease to victory over Ipswich Town

Niko Kranjcar opened the scoring for QPR at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.

Niko Kranjcar opened the scoring for QPR at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon. - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Championship: Ipswich Town 1 QPR 3

Second-half goals from Niko Kranjcar, Gary O’Neil and Armand Traore secured a convincing win for QPR as Harry Redknapp’s side got their promotion bid back on track.

Rangers had managed only four points from a possible 12 over the Christmas period, and came into the match at Portman Road with one away victory since September.

However, after a first half edged by the home side, Rangers took control, with on-loan Dynamo Kiev midfielder Kranjcar opening the scoring with a low shot on 52 minutes.

O’Neil added the second less than 10 minutes later, tapping the ball into an empty net after Ipswich keeper Dean Gerken had saved from Charlie Austin.

Substitute Traore quickly made it 3-0, taking advantage of a defensive error to slot home, before Tommy Smith volleyed in a spectacular late strike for Ipswich.

The result brought to an end Ipswich’s nine-match unbeaten run, and kept Redknapp’s side third in the Championship table, a single point behind Burnley.

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Redknapp made five changes from the side which lost 4-0 to Everton in the FA Cup last weekend. Julio Cesar made way in goal for Rob Green, while Traore, Nedum Onuoha, Matt Phillips and Karl Henry all dropped to the bench. Richard Dunne returned in defence, while Tom Carroll, Kranjcar and Yossi Benayoun were reinstated in midfield.

Rangers carved out the first openings, with Benayoun looping a free header over Gerken’s crossbar and O’Neil sending an ambitious 25-yard half-volley well wide.

Ipswich burst into life midway through the half and should have taken the lead. Luke Chambers burst into the area on the right and saw his deflected shot saved by Green.

Barton cleared the ball from in front of the goal-line, only to see it returned into the six-yard box, where Chambers sent his shot into the stand behind the goal.

That signalled the start of a frantic spell of action. Kranjcar played in O’Neil, whose chipped cross was headed towards goal at point-blank range by QPR top-scorer Charlie Austin. It looked a certain goal, until Gerken threw up an arm and palmed the ball over.

Shortly before half-time, Paul Anderson let fly with a vicious dipping shot which Green fumbled, but the Rs keeper did well to claim the loose ball in front of the lurking McGoldrick.

Having been second-best for long periods of the first half, QPR made the perfect start to the second as they opened the scoring. Kranjcar took on Assou-Ekotto’s throw in near the byline, cut in past Chambers and hit a shot which squirmed past Gerken into the bottom corner.

The goal took the wind out of the home side’s sails, and QPR quickly piled on the pain for Mick McCarthy’s side, as they added a second goal just past the hour-mark.

Austin was allowed time and space to turn and run at goal. His shot was palmed out by Gerken, giving O’Neil the simple task of tapping in the rebound from a few yards out.

And it got even better for the visitors as they made it 3-0, thanks to a calamitous mistake from Smith. Hill’s up-and-under clearance from defence was misjudged by the Town defender, allowing Traore to race clear and prod home his first ever QPR goal.

There was, however, no clean sheet for the Rs, as Smith met Stephen Hunt’s injury-time corner with a firm volley which flew past Green and into the net.

QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, Carroll, Barton, Kranjcar, Benayoun, O’Neil. Subs: Murphy, Traore, Phillips, Johnson, Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Henry.