Queens Park Rangers 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1: Matt Smith heads up win for QPR over Wolves
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Sky Bet Championship: Queens Park Rangers 2 (Washington 41, Smith 81) Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (Bonatini 43)
Queens Park Rangers ended a run of seven games without a win in the Championship with a fine 2-1 win at home to promotion hopefuls Wolverhampton Wanderers.
QPR took the lead towards the end of the first half through Conor Washington, though Wolves hit back almost immediately as the sides went into the break level.
In the closing moments, the Rs hit the front again through substitute Matt Smith and held on despite late pressure from the west Midland side.
The Loftus Road club made three changes for the clash, with Jordan Cousins recalled to the starting XI for his first appearance since January having suffered with injuries in recent months.
Also recalled were Jack Robinson at centre back and Washington in attack, with Ryan Manning, Pawel Wszolek and Jamie Mackie making way.
It took until the 12th minute for either keeper to be tested, with QPR forward Washington shooting acrobatically from close range, but stopper John Ruddy was well behind the effort.
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With both sides struggling to carve chances out, Wolves looked to take the lead in the 25th minute when Diogo Jota strode forward, but the Portuguese attacker fired wide from 20 yards.
In the 33rd minute, the Rs were under threat again when Romain Saiss crossed from the right, but Wanderers defender Danny Batth’s subsequent header lacked any real power, allowing Alex Smithies to collect comfortably.
By now, the west Midlanders had grown into the game, with a cross from the right by Ivan Cavaleiro three minutes later finding Matt Doherty in the box, but the defender hooked it away from goal, rather than towards it.
A minute later, the west Londoners went close too, with Cousins nodding the ball back across goal, but Roderick Miranda cleared before Idrissa Sylla could get on the end of it.
The Loftus Road side took the lead in the 41st minute when Washington found the net from a tight angle.
Massimo Lungo’s tackle on Saiss just outside the area pushed the ball into the path of the Northern Ireland frontman, whose initial effort was saved by Ruddy.
However, the ball ricocheted back off Washington and he showed good pace to tuck the ball home from a tight angle before it went out of play.
It was a lead Ian Holloway’s men would hold for just two minutes, with Wolves levelling up through Leo Bonatini.
After Jota went on a long run down the left and into the box, the Portuguese midfielder played the ball into Bonatini, who slammed home from the penalty spot.
QPR nearly conceded against in the final minute of the half when a Cousins slip allowed Barry Douglas into the box.
The Scottish defender saw his weak shot with his right foot parried back into play by Smithies, with Joel Lynch heading clear before Bonatini could head in a second from close range.
It was a frantic end to what had been a quiet half for the most part, but the sides went into the break level at 1-1.
Six minutes into the second half, Luke Freeman saw an effort from 25 yards deflected onto the bar, before Rs teammate Massimo Luongo fired the rebound over from a similar distance.
In the 55th minute, Wolves had a penalty appeal dismissed when Cavaleiro went down in the box under pressure from QPR defender Alex Baptiste.
Bonatini went close to doubling up for the west Midland outfit seven minutes later, but somehow fired over from six yards after playing a neat one-two with Jota.
With 20 minutes left in the match, a cross from the left from Jake Bidwell found Rs
Substitute Matt Smith at the back post, but the forward nodded off target.
The Loftus Road club went close again in the 72nd minute when Smith beat Ruddy to a ball, nodding it into the path of Washington.
The 25-year-old launched a lofted effort from the edge of the box towards goal, but Batth was able to head it off the line.
Two minutes later, stand-in skipper Luongo also chances his arm for Holloway’s men, drawing a good save from Ruddy from 20 yards.
The Wolves keeper instigated a quick counter-attack with his distribution, which ended with Jota cutting inside onto his left boot before firing, but Smithies blocked the shot with his legs.
With nine minutes left in the match, QPR took the lead for a second time when Smith found the target.
After a free kick on the edge of the Wolves box had been cleared, the Rs quickly recycled the ball to Joel Lynch on the left flank.
The centre-back delivered a cross in to the heart of the box, with Smith nodding the ball past Ruddy and into the corner of the net.
Wolves spent the remaining moments despite trying to find a second equaliser, but the QPR defence held firm.
Holloway will hope his charges can defeat another promotion-chasing side on Tuesday when they host Sheffield United.
QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Baptiste, Lynch, Robinson; Cousins (Wszolek 66), Luongo, Scowen, Freeman (Furlong 90+2), Bidwell; Washington, Sylla (Smith 66).
Subs: Lumley (GK), Mackie, Ngbakoto, Wheeler.
Wolves (3-4-2-1): Ruddy; Batth, Coady, Miranda; Doherty, Saiss, Neves (Marshall 84), Douglas; Cavaleiro (Costa 57), Jota; Bonatini (Enobakhare 70).
Subs: Norris (GK), N’Diaye, Bennett, Boly.
Referee: Tony Harrington.
Attendance: 16,004 (including 3,194 Wolves fans).