Queens Park Rangers 0 Middlesbrough 3: QPR suffer thumping defeat at home to Boro
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Sky Bet Championship: Queens Park Rangers 0 Middlesbrough 3 (Ayala 24, Friend 34, Traore 85)
Queens Park Rangers dropped points in the EFL Championship for the first time in 2018 after going down 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough.
Despite making a bright start to the match, the Rs trailed by two goals heading into half time.
Try as they might, the west Londoners were unable to fashion many chances after the restart, with the visitors wrapping up the win with a third goal in the closing moments.
QPR boss Ian Holloway named an unchanged XI following last weekend’s win at Burton Albion, meaning a first start at Loftus Road for Aramide Oteh.
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The only alteration to the matchday 22 saw James Perch replaced by Bright Osayi-Samuel among the substitutes.
The hosts enjoyed plenty of possession early on, with defender Jack Robinson flashing a vicious effort from 25 yards just wide in the sixth minute.
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Despite looking good in the opening exchanges, it was the west Londoners who conceded the opening goal in the 24th minute.
A corner from the left was flicked on at the near post to the far post, where defender Daniel Ayala headed home unmarked to put Boro ahead.
Tony Pulis’ men then doubled their lead in spectacular fashion 10 minutes later through left-back George Friend.
The 30-year-old was given the opportunity to run with the ball inside the QPR half, before firing into the top left corner with a venomous 25-yard effort.
In the final minute of the half, a long ball forward from Robinson found Rs forward Conor Washington in the box.
However, the Northern Ireland international’s first-time effort was a tame on, rolling into the arms of Middlesbrough keeper Darren Randolph.
That proved to be the only shot on target in the first half for QPR, who trailed by two goals at the break.
Holloway’s men started the second half brightly, with the Rs boss feeling his team could have had two penalties for fouls on substitute Matt Smith early on.
In the 62nd minute, midfielder Massimo Luongo tried his luck from 30 yards, but saw his effort go high and wide of the target.
With 23 minutes remaining, a corner from the left by Freeman found Smith, but the former Fulham man nodded over the bar.
Middlesbrough could have added a third in the 77th minute when replacement Rudy Gestede rounded home stopper Alex Smithies, but Robinson was able to clear the subsequent shot off the line.
Keen to make the most of their let off, the Rs pushed forward for a goal, but a close range effort from Joel Lynch five minutes later was stopped on the line by keeper Darren Randolph.
From the restart, Boro broke down field, with a powerful Gestede header drawing a fine save from Smithies.
With five minutes remaining, a cross from the edge of the ball by QPR midfielder Luongo found Robinson at the back post, but the defender’s header went over.
It proved a costly miss, with Middlesbrough adding a third just a minute later to secure the win.
On the edge of the box, Gestede nodded the ball on, with Adama Traore racing through to score.
That led to a mass exodus among the home support at Loftus Road, knowing any faint hope of a comeback had vanished.
It also led to the closing moments of the match lacking any real chances, with Middlesbrough seeing the game out comfortably.
The Rs will hope for better next Saturday when they make the trip to another promotion-chasing side in Bristol City.
QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Onuoha, Lynch, Robinson; Furlong, Luongo, Scowen (Eze 70), Freeman, Bidwell (Osayi-Samuel 46); Oteh (Smith 46), Washington.
Subs: Ingram (GK), Manning, Baptiste, Wszolek.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter, Howson; Traore, Downing (Christie 87), Bamford (Clayton 73); Assombalonga (Gestede 69).
Subs: Konstantopoulos (GK), Braithwaite, Fletcher, Johnson, Christie.
Attendance: 14,182 (including 2, 484 Boro fans).
Referee: Oliver Langford.