Aston Villa 1 Queens Park Rangers 3: Ryan Manning on target as QPR enjoy successful Villa trip
PUBLISHED: 21:41 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 21:41 13 March 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Sky Bet Championship: Aston Villa 1 (Chester 88) Queens Park Rangers 3 (Manning 12, Bidwell 33, Freeman 82)
Queens Park Rangers took a giant stride towards securing their place in the Championship next season with a 3-1win at promotion-chasing Aston Villa.
The Rs led by two goals at the break after Ryan Manning and Jake Bidwell both netted their first goals of the season in the opening half.
Luke Freeman came off the bench in the second period to net the third for the west Londoners, who pulled off one of the shocks of the season.
QPR boss Ian Holloway made three changes to the starting XI that beat Sunderland at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Jack Robinson and Paul Smyth both missed out through injury, with Joel Lynch and Pawel Wszolek coming into the starting XI.
Freeman dropped to the bench with his place taken by Manning as Holloway looked to avoid the former picking up a two-game ban.
Ahead of the match at Villa Park, Freeman was one game away from his 10th booking of the season, which would have seen his miss the games at Fulham and Reading.
However, with the cut-off point for 10 bookings after the game in the Midlands, Holloway elected not to risk Freeman.
The Rs nearly took an early lead against the Villans, with Matt Smith testing keeper Sam Johnstone inside the opening two minutes.
Smith went close again five minutes later, heading a Manning cross at goal, but Johnstone was behind the effort.
QPR’s bright start to proceedings told in the 12th minute when Manning put the west Londoners ahead.
The Irish midfielder nodded a Bidwell cross past Johnstone, much to the delight of the travelling faithful.
Villa went close to drawing level six minutes, but Rs stopper Alex Smithies denied Albert Adomah.
With 12 minutes left in the half, the Loftus Road outfit doubled their advantage when Bidwell turned scorer.
A pull-back from Wszolek found the left back in the box, with the former Everton man drilling his effort past Johnstone and into the corner of the net.
Smithies produced a fine save to keep out a header from Jack Grealish in stoppage time at the end of the first half as the Rs took their two-goal lead into the break.
QPR went close to a third in the 62nd minute when Ebere Eze found Wszolek in the box, but the Polish international saw his shot blocked by Johnstone.
With eight minutes remaining in the match, though, a third was forthcoming when substitute Freeman found the target.
Full back Darnell Furlong found Freeman with a ball, and the midfielder fired his effort in at the near post.
QPR were unable to record a clean sheet, though, with James Chester pulling one back for the hosts from a corner in the 88th minute.
The Villans piled on the pressure as they looked for a way back into the game in the closing moments, but the Rs held firm to win.
It was a fine success for Holloway’s men and one they will bid to emulate at Fulham on Saturday.
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; El Mohamady, Chester, Terry, Taylor (Davis 56); Jedinak, Hourihane (Bjarnason 81); Snodgrass, Grealish, Adomah; Grabban (Hogan 67).
Subs: Bunn (GK), Lansbury, Bree, Onomah.
QPR (4-3-3): Smithies; Furlong, Onuoha, Lynch, Bidwell; Luongo, Scowen, Manning (Cousins 74); Wszolek (Perch 72), Smith, Eze (Freeman 79).
Subs: Ingram (GK), Washington, Baptiste, Osayi-Samuel.
Referee: Tim Robinson.