Queens Park Rangers 2 Brentford 2: Late Luke Freeman goal earns QPR draw with Bees in west London derby
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Sky Bet Championship: Queens Park Rangers 2 (Smith 90+3, Freeman 90+4) Brentford 2 (Vibe 52, 81)
Two stoppage-time goals saw Queens Park Rangers battle back to earn a 2-2 at home to west London rivals Brentford in the Championship.
Though the first half failed to spring into life as would normally be expected in a derby, both teams certainly created some good chances.
Two goals in the second half for Lasse Vibe looked to be sending the Bees on their way to a derby day success.
However, both substitute Matt Smith and Luke Freeman found the target for the Rs in stoppage time to secure a memorable draw for the Loftus Road club.
QPR boss Ian Holloway made four changes for the clash, with recalls to the starting XI for Jordan Cousins, Massimo Luongo, Idrissa Sylla and Conor Washington.
Following a fairly quiet opening to the derby, the majority of fans got to their feet for the first time 10 minutes into the match to applaud Stan Bowles.
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The legendary winger player for both west London clubs, but is currently battling Alzheimer’s.
Despite the rivalry, fans from both clubs honoured the now 68-year-old with a minute’s applause.
The first real shot in anger came in the 13th minute when Brentford winger Sergi Canos tested Alex Smithies with a curling shot from distance that the QPR stopper could only push behind for a corner.
Three minutes later, a quick counter attack from the Rs saw the ball work its way to Jamie Mackie on the left of the box.
The Scotland international cut back inside onto his favoured right foot, but put his subsequent effort from 12 yards over the bar and into the Brentford fans behind the goal.
A foul from Mackie on Nico Yennaris around 30 yards out in the 27th minute offered the Bees a chance to take the lead, but full back Yoann Barbet put the subsequent free kick narrowly over.
With seven minutes left in the half, a knockdown from Sylla guided the ball into the path of Washington.
Around 25 yards out, the Northern Ireland international elected to go for goal, but his half volley was straight at Bees custodian Daniel Bentley.
Though Canos fired a stinging shot just wide before the interval, neither team could find a breakthrough as they west London rivals heading down the tunnel level at 0-0.
Less than two minutes into the second half, QPR nearly took the lead when Sylla flicked a header from Josh Scowen onto the bar, before Brentford cleared.
Three minutes later, a slip from Cousins allowed Bees substitute Ollie Watkins to burst into the box, but the former Exeter City man was unable to trouble Smithies with his resulting effort.
In the 52nd minute, the deadlock was finally broken when Brentford forward Vibe found the target.
The Danish international expertly controlled a ball from Yennaris before firing a low effort past Smithies.
QPR nearly conceded a second two minutes later, but Yennaris could not turn a long ball forward from Barbet on target.
The Rs had a chance to draw level in the 57th minute when the ball found Washington in the box, but the striker’s effort was wild.
Vibe was nearly at the double twice in quick succession in the 68th minute, but Smithies was on hand on both occasions to keep the ball out.
Smith was certainly getting involved for the Rs after coming on soon after Bees had taken the lead, and went close to a leveller in the 71st minute from a Freeman corner.
With nine minutes left in the match, Vibe found the target again, this time turning home a Romaine Sawyers ball from the right to give QPR a mountain to climb.
Things nearly went from bad to worse for the Rs in the 84th minute when Watkins sped into the area, but Smithies showed great reactions to keep out his deflected shot.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Smith pulled one back for Rs when heading home from close range after Bentley failed to collect a Freeman cross.
A minute later, Scowen launched a free kick deep into the Brentford box, causing plenty of problems.
Freeman was on hand to make the most of the confusion, tucking home from a matter of yards to send the home faithful into raptures.
Though the result means QPR are now without a win in their last four games, it is a draw that surely feels like a victory and one that will give the squad a boost ahead of the trip to Preston North End on Saturday.
QPR (4-3-3): Smithies; Cousins (Wszolek 74), Baptiste, Robinson, Bidwell; Luongo, Scowen, Freeman; Sylla (Smith 58), Washington, Mackie (LuaLua 73).
Subs: Lumley (GK), Goss, Chair, Wheeler.
Brentford (4-3-3): Bentley; Clarke, Egan, Bjelland, Barbet; Woods, Mokotjo, Yennaris; Jozefzoon (Watkins 29), Vibe (Maupay 82), Canos (Sawyers 73).
Subs: Daniels (GK), MacLeod, McEachran, Mepham.
Referee: Steve Martin.