Queens Park Rangers 2 Reading 0: Conor Washington brace helps QPR start with win over Royals
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Championship: Queens Park Rangers 2 (Washington 22, 59p) Reading 0
Queens Park Rangers started the new Championship season in fine fashion with a 2-0 win at home to last term’s beaten play-off finalists Reading.
After a very positive first half, the Loftus Road club led 1-0 thanks to a Conor Washington header, though in truth they could easily have scored a couple more.
The Northern Ireland international then added a second from the spot after half time to complete his first Football League brace since December 2015 as QPR started the season perfectly.
QPR boss Ian Holloway made just two changes to his starting XI from last weekend’s 1-0 friendly defeat at home to Premier League side Bournemouth.
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Jake Bidwell replaced Jack Robinson at left wing-back after overcoming a bout of sickness, while Jamie Mackie came in up top to face his former club in place of Matt Smith.
Inside the opening two minutes, QPR had a chance to take an early lead when Mackie intercepted a loose ball on the edge of the box by Reading defender Tiago Ilori.
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The Scotland international then slid the ball into the path of team-mate Pawel Wszolek, but he was unable to find a route past Royals stopper Vito Mannone.
The Rs looked in control early on, though needed a good interception from Nedum Onuoha in his own box to thwart a Reading counter-attack six minutes later.
The QPR skipper was involved in the defensive effort again in the 11th minute, putting enough pressure on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to force the Icelandic forward into a miss after latching on to a long ball from Liam Kelly.
Those chances for Reading seemed to slow the west Londoners’ advances somewhat, before taking the lead in the 22nd minute.
Having shrugged off two Reading markers, Luke Freeman back-heeled the ball to Massimo Luongo, who in turn threaded it to Wszolek on the right.
The Polish midfielder crossed to the back post, where Washington was on hand to head home the Rs’ first goal of the season.
QPR nearly added a second just four minutes later following a quick break when Wszolek slid the ball back to Freeman on the edge of the box, but his powerful effort flashed wide of the goal.
Reading were still capable of creating chances themselves, with left winger Pelle Clement cutting inside to fire at Rs stopper Alex Smithies in the 31st minute.
At the other end five minutes later, Washington nearly turned provide when playing a through a lovely chipped ball for Luongo to chase.
The Australian international struck the ball sweetly, but perhaps too sweetly as his effort cannoned back off the past and agonisingly out of the reach of Mackie, who was looking to turn the rebound home.
QPR continued to press and with five minutes left in the half, Washington had a glorious chance for a second when intercepting a woeful back pass from Kelly, but blazed his effort high and wide of the goal.
That proved to be the final opening of what was a highly-positive opening half of the season for Holloway’s men as they took their one-goal lead into the interval.
After coming out for the second period, the west London club continued to look impressive, with Freeman firing over from 20 yards four minutes after the restart.
In the 53rd minute, though, QPR were indebted to Smithies for keeping them in front with a stunning save.
After substitute Mo Barrow pounced on an initial error from Onuoha, the ball found its way to Swift just inside the area, who powerfully fired at Smithies, but the Rs stopper showed superb reactions to prevent a goal.
QPR soon had their second, though, with Washington converting from the spot after Wszolek had been fouled in the box.
A swift counter-attack from Rs resulted in Wszolek receiving the ball on the penalty spot and as he went to move past Ilori, the Portuguese defender hauled the midfielder down.
For the foul, Ilori was sent off, with Wahsington then sending Mannone the wrong way with the subsequent spot kick.
The Royals, however, were furious as Bodvarsson was down injured following a foul from Joel Lynch when the spot kick was awarded.
Luongo nearly added a third for QPR in the 67th minute, but his header from a Bidwell cross was straight at Mannone.
From there, things seemed to peter out, with the Rs aware it was now theirs to lose with a two-goal lead at home and the man advantage.
QPR saw out the remainder with little incident, and will hope to maintain their winning start to the term when they host Northampton Town of League One in the League Cup on Tuesday night.
QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Perch, Onuoha, Lynch; Wszolek, Scowen, Luongo, Freeman, Bidwell (Robinson 87); Washington (Sylla 81), Mackie (Ngbakoto 82).
Subs: Ingram (GK), Furlong, Borysiuk, Smith.
Reading (4-4-2): Mannone; Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Blackett; Swift (Mendes 82), Kelly, Evans, Clement (Barrow 52); Popa, Bodvarsson (Richards 58).
Subs: Jaakola (GK), Mendes, Rinomhota, Smith.
Sent off: Ilori 57 (professional foul)
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 14,460 (2,208 Reading fans)