A Taylor Harwood-Bellis header gave Southampton a 1-0 victory at QPR to make it 15 matches without defeat - the Saints' longest unbeaten run since 1950.

The visitors ended the match with 10 men following the 89th-minute sending-off of Shea Charles, but they held on.

Southampton's fine run has included 10 wins and Russell Martin's side, fourth in the Sky Bet Championship, remain very much in the race for automatic promotion.

Rangers, meanwhile, have suffered back-to-back defeats and remain third from bottom, having previously won three matches in a row under recently-appointed boss Marti Cifuentes.

The R's have improved since the Spaniard took over and were on the front foot for much of the first half, with the outstanding Ilias Chair their main threat.

Chair almost embarrassed goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu with an audacious attempt from near the halfway line which drifted just over.

The Rangers forward also dispossessed Will Smallbone to set up Elijah Dixon-Bonner, who shot over, and then set up Andre Dozzell, whose shot was deflected over by Flynn Downes.

Chair worried Southampton again when he tricked his way past James Bree before seeing his low strike saved by Bazunu.

Bree was given a torrid time by Chair and was not helped by sustaining what looked like a hamstring injury early on.

He was replaced just after the half-hour mark by former QPR man Ryan Manning, who made an immediate impact, posing a threat on the left-hand side and delivering a free-kick from the opposite flank which led to the goal three minutes before half-time.

Manning swung the ball in and Harwood-Bellis got away from right-back Reggie Cannon to head Adam Armstrong's flick-on past keeper Asmir Begovic.

It knocked the stuffing out of Rangers, who tried hard to conjure an equaliser in the second half but struggled to create openings.

Chair remained a handful but fellow playmaker Chris Willock failed to make an impact, sending one effort well over before going off after suffering an injury - a potential concern for Cifuentes ahead of some crucial matches over the festive period.

The Saints were always dangerous on the counter-attack and Begovic prevented a second goal by producing a fine save to deny Stuart Armstrong.

Charles, on as a second-half substitute, was dismissed for a second yellow card following a foul on Albert Adomah.

QPR head to Millwall on Boxing Day (1pm).

*copy from PA.